Interim care order extended after ten years in voluntary care – 2018vol2#28

In a rural town the CFA solicitor sought the extension of an interim care order in respect of three children who had been in voluntary care for ten years. The court was told that the children had no legal guardian since the mother had passed away three months earlier. The biological father of two of the children was not married to the mother and was not a legal guardian. The biological father of the third child was unknown. The three children were in different relative foster placements.

The social worker told the court that she had taken responsibility for this case in May 2018. She said that the voluntary care order was consented to approximately ten years earlier due to the chaotic life style of the mother, issues with addiction and neglect of the children. Since 2008 each child was in the care of a relative. The social worker said that the biological father of two of the children was happy with the care the children were receiving in their relative foster placements.

When the judge asked whether there were access arrangements in place, the social worker responded that it was just between the three siblings. The judge also asked if the children were receiving support. The social worker answered that bereavement work would start in the new year. The judge was told that the three children had stability in their current placements but that they had no legal guardian to provide consent.

The solicitor for the CFA told the judge that an application for a full care order would be sought at the next hearing and that no additional evidence would be provided on that date.

In another case involving one child the court was told that the psychological assessments of both parents were due at the end of January 2019.

The social worker told the court that direct work had been done using the Signs of Safety approach. She said that the children were progressing well in school and that the foster placement was working very well. The mother had consistently engaged with the social workers and the father had continuously pursued access. She told the court that, following access to the father, the child would struggle and would need lots of comfort from both foster carers. She said that the child needed a routine in relation to access given its emotional impact.

The court heard that the child wanted her voice to be heard and wanted the judge and mother and father to know how she feels.

During cross-examination by the solicitor for the father, the social worker acknowledged that the father had just started a new job, which could have an impact on access arrangements.

The solicitor for the mother said her client had consented to the extension of the interim care order.

Granting the interim care order extension, the judge directed the CFA to provide the outstanding reports as soon as possible.