An Interim Care Order for a young teenage girl was granted in the Dublin District Court following the making of an Emergency Care Order after an incident in her home.
The solicitor for the mother told the court that the mother is very unwell and cannot attend court but that she consented to an Interim Care Order (ICO) for 28 days. She was on a methadone maintenance programme which she attends every day, she was homeless, and admitted to an alcohol addiction problem. The HSE has difficulty maintaining contact with her as she habitually loses her phone. She is suffering from HIV.
The solicitor for HSE told the court the HSE was not aware of the identity of the father. The child had been cared for by the grandmother (who was in loco parentis), but the grandmother was currently very unwell and in hospital.
The judge asked if the grandmother should be a full party as opposed to a notice party. The solicitor for the HSE said that it might confer a right on her that she does not have. The solicitor had not had an opportunity to have an interview with the grandmother to obtain her view on the matter. The judge said that if the grandmother has had significant participation in the care her view should be obtained.
The social worker told the solicitor for the HSE that the child is 14 and is very distressed by the behaviour of her mum and uncles (who all have a history of alcohol addiction). The child feels that she is the problem in the family; that her grandmother is sick because of her and the alcohol addiction is because of her. The mother has chronic addictions and will not be in a position to care for her daughter. When the social worker met the mother on three occasions since late November she was highly intoxicated and very hard to converse with.
The guards were called to the house last week, the mother was found in a high state of agitation and intoxication with the uncles. There was a lot of shouting and aggression between them, the child was crying and asked to be removed by the guards, which was why the Section 12 (Emergency Care Order) was sought.
The social worker told the court that the child is in an emergency placement with a foster family until a long term placement is ready in two weeks. The new placement will be in a residential placement, from there she might go to live with her aunt after six months. Her aunt will offer a placement if the child’s behavioural problems are addressed, “her risk taking behaviour and provided she is back in a school setting”.
The child has only attended school for eight days since September. The social worker said she won’t go back there as the other pupils have seen her mother begging and “know her business”. Behavioural problems have been noted by schools since 6th class, the social worker said it could be worthwhile doing an educational assessment.
The child is currently being assessed for drug use in relation to marijuana use. However both the social worker and her foster family feel it is not a problem, as she doesn’t present as someone with a “chaotic drug use”.
The social worker told the solicitor for the HSE that due to anxiety issues there will also be a psychiatric assessment, possibly by a key worker rather than by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, CAMHS, so the child doesn’t see herself as needing psychiatric care and being a problem.
The social worker said that it would be a risk for the child to be returned as the grandmother is in hospital and was finding it hard to cope at home due to illness. Supervised access weekly is suggested due to the mother’s intense intoxication and manipulative personality. The social worker told the court that the mother “hasn’t had any involvement at parenting level since birth”.
The social worker said that the child is in an emergency out of hours’ foster placement. She will go into a residential placement in Dublin rather than a foster placement outside of Dublin because she wants to be close to her family. The social worker said the grandmother will go with what makes the child happy.
The social worker told the court that “first and foremost she needs a calm environment, she needs to be away from addictions and [from] being told that she is the problem”.
The judge granted an ICO for 28 days, with her new placement in “for mention” within two weeks and access for her mother. The judge asked the solicitor for the HSE to liaise with the medical social worker with regard to the grandmother and her ability to deal with the matter.