GAL concern that no application made in High Court Wardship list for vulnerable girl in care since 11 – 2020vol1#45

The guardian ad litem for a girl due to reach 18 told the High Court of her concerns that there was no application before the court concerning her care status. She had been in the case of the Child and Family Agency (CFA) since the age of 11.

The President of the High Court made an order under section 27 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008 prohibiting the identification of the young girl as a person suffering with a medical condition. The court was told that the child had been in the care of the Child and Family Agency since the age of 11 and she had had a number of placement moves. There had been an arrangement in place in 2019 where the child was living with the father and there was respite in a residential unit on the weekends.

The court was told that following a suicide attempt by the young girl an order was made by the District Court under section 25 of the Mental Health Act 2001 for the involuntary detention of the young girl in an approved inpatient until. A doctor had been appointed by the District Court pursuant to section 27 of the Child Care Act 1991 to prepare a report on her. The report of the appointed doctor and an affidavit was provided to the High Court and this report had advised that an application should be made to have the young girl made a ward of court upon reaching the age of majority.

The matter had been before another judge of the High Court in early May 2020 and at that stage two orders were made, namely that a medical visitor was appointed to attend the young girl and a guardian ad litem be appointed. The High Court judge at that stage had said that he did not want to intrude on the jurisdiction of the District Court (which made the Section 25 order). The barrister for the CFA said that in the event that the child was under the protection of the High Court any order would fall away when the child reached the age of majority. The barrister said that the High Court judge had directed an update to be provided to the court.

The barrister informed the court that there had been discussions between the CFA and the HSE for long-term funding and there was an indication that a placement would be ready for when the child turned 18. The barrister said one of the concerns identified by the CFA and the guardian ad litem was that it may be necessary for an order to be in place for the young girl to be returned if she absconded.

The barrister highlighted that the young girl’s treating psychiatrist had expressed the view that she had capacity, but that the other doctor appointed said that she should be made a ward of court (where a person is judged not to have capacity).

Barrister: “It might be unusual to make interim orders when there are different medical views in respect of her capacity.”

The High Court President asked what order was being sought and the barrister clarified that the CFA was not seeking an order on that day but had been asked to come before the court to provide an update and asked if the matter could be listed in two weeks’ time for a further update before the child reached the age of the majority. The President said that he was making no order and that there was liberty to apply to make any application when appropriate. The president said that when the parents of the child are served they would need to be notified of the order being sought.

The barrister for the GAL told the court that the GAL had requested the matter to be listed in full expectation of the CFA and HSE seeking interim orders for her welfare.  She said that the GAL had serious concerns in respect of the young woman’s welfare and stated that it was “effectively a community placement albeit with supports” and in the doctor’s view these supports would not meet her needs. The GAL barrister told the court that the GAL was of the view that an order was necessary.

President: “There is no application before me for an order. I don’t have a medical report before me.”

No order was made by the court in respect of this matter and there was liberty to apply to the High Court to make any application that was appropriate.