Full care order for baby amid alcohol and domestic violence concerns – 2020vol1#24

A full care order was made in respect of a nine-month-old child in a provincial town. There were concerns of substance misuse and domestic violence in respect of the parents. The parents had failed to engage with the Child and Family Agency (CFA).

The parents had previously been represented and were present at the initial interim care order, but were not present in court for the care order hearing. The solicitor for the CFA said: “They [the parents] have had no engagement and have not seen him [the child] since he was discharged from hospital.”

The child was born eight weeks premature and he was unresponsive for 15 minutes following his birth. The child had to be incubated three times. Efforts were made to contact the parents. Access was arranged following the child’s discharge from hospital but the parents failed to attend.

The social worker said due to the concerns surrounding the family home, the social worker could not attend the home without the Gardaí being present. During a home visit with the parents, the social worker noticed the mother had a black eye and deep gash on her nose which she alleged was caused as a result of the assault by the father. He said: “We worked with her that afternoon and got a refuge bed for her and photographic evidence [of her injuries].”

The mother made disclosures about her lifestyle. The mother suffered violence and abuse at the hands of the father and other family members. The mother struggled with alcohol addiction but did not avail of rehabilitation services.

At a later point, the mother presented at TUSLA again with a black eye. She had suffered a further assault by the father. The social worker last spoke to the mother in November and she made a number of commitments about visiting the child but she did not carry them out. None of the concerns had been mitigated and the mother has returned to the father.

The social worker said the placement was meeting the needs of the child exceptionally well and the care he was receiving from his foster carers was “part and parcel of his recovery.”

The judge granted the care order until the child reached his majority.