Interim Care Order arising from serious neglect – 2015vol3#18

An Interim Care Order was granted for two young children by a court in a rural town which heard evidence of serious neglect and developmental delay on the part of the children.

The court heard that the family had first come to the attention of social services in 2006 rising from behavioural problems on the part of an older child, now a teenager. Since earlier this year this child was living with his father, and the concerns of the social work department now were for two younger children, who had a different father.

The social worker said that supports had been put in place for the family, but the mother stopped engaging with support workers. There were concerns about hygiene and medical issues, including obesity. The mother refused to engage with the dietician. The child, who was six, had been referred for speech and language therapy. He was 14 months behind in understanding language and two years behind in speaking. His mother was not bringing him to appointments, his teeth were decayed and he was wearing ill-fitting clothes.

The younger child also had ill-fitting clothes, a mixture of boys’ and girls’ clothing. Both children’s clothes were very smelly, and this was not improved by repeated washing, so they had to be replaced. The younger child had clothes too big for him, so that he could not play. He was dribbling all the time and neither child was toilet-trained. The younger one told foster carers they went to the toilet on the floor.

The mother’s solicitor said she accepted there had been difficulties, especially as she had been trying to deal with the oldest child’s challenging behaviour. She would accept a Supervision Order. The social worker said that support had been offered for years, but the mother would not engage with it. The children had been exposed to physical, emotional, educational and medical neglect. They had received no basic parenting.

The mother told the court she accepted she had missed appointments and that there had been failures in her parenting. She said she was prepared now to fully engage with the services offered and would consent to a Supervision Order. She said the children were using the toilet when living with her.

The CFA solicitor said they were making an application for the appointment of a guardian ad litem for the children.

“The taking of children into care is a very intrusive action,” the judge said. “There are times when neglect relates to a specific action, for example, not being sent to school, or no heating in the house, and they can be addressed. But the neglect in this case goes to all aspects of child-rearing. The neglect has been quite appalling.”

He made an Interim Care Order for a month. Referring to the appointment of a GAL, he said he thought it was premature. The children needed to be brought to a level of development educationally and in their health so that they could engage with a GAL. When they were stable he could consider a GAL.