In camera rule lifted so that reports can be sent to child’s psychiatrist – 2020vol1#13

A judge in a rural district court ordered the lifting of the in camera rule so that reports about a teenage boy, Child A, could be passed from his guardian ad litem (GAL) and his current social worker to his treating psychiatrist. Child A, for whom a care order is in place, was returned to his own home following problems that arose in his foster placement. A divergence of views had since occurred between the GAL and the child’s psychiatrist. The judge adjourned the matter for one month and sought details from the Child and Family Agency (CFA) outlining their long-term plan for Child A.

The lawyer for the CFA explained to the court that A had been living back in his own home since his placement became problematic. The psychiatrist was in favour of reducing the child’s medication but the GAL was critical of this. Child A’s medication had been reduced by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) on a trial basis and he was now living back at home which posed a high risk. The GAL had not yet spoken to the child’s psychiatrist.

The judge asked what plans the CFA had as an alternative to Child A living at home. The judge said he was aware of the information in A’s file and that this case was now “on a knife edge” and that he would need to hear details of why A ended up back in his own home. The fact that A was living back at home was “the lesser of two evils” but was far from ideal. The judge said having A remaining in his own home should be viewed as a temporary arrangement only and he enquired about the alternative placements being explored by the CFA.

The lawyer for the GAL said that another move of placement for A would not be in the child’s best interests but the judge said that any placement of the child back in his own home could only be viewed as a very short-term solution unless very big changes had been made in the home since the child was removed from it.

The lawyer for the CFA requested that the in camera rule be lifted in order to release the GAL’s report along with the current social worker’s report to Child A’s psychiatrist. The judge made the order requested, adjourned the matter for one month and said he would give a further date if a longer hearing was necessary.