Interim care order extended for 10 weeks where parenting capacity assessment awaited- 2022vol2#12

A judge in the Dublin District Court extended interim care orders (ICOs) in respect of two girls for ten weeks on consent where the mother was seeking a second parenting capacity assessment.

The matter concerned a school aged girl (A) and a pre-school aged girl (B). The father of A had not been involved with her care, had no access and was not a guardian. The father of B had legal representation but was not in court and was consenting to the application. The mother was represented by a solicitor and a barrister. She had initially attended court but had left before the matter was heard because she had a planned access with the children. The mother also consented to the extension of the interim care orders for both girls made by the Child and Family Agency (CFA).

The mother’s barrister informed the court that access had been positive, and that special occasion access had been arranged. A review of access was due to be held with the hope that access would be increased. She said that the application for full care orders had been delayed because the mother had not accepted the findings of the parenting capacity assessment and a second opinion had been sought and approved. It was hoped the second parenting capacity assessment would begin within the next two months.

The guardian ad litem (GAL) said that in principle she agreed with the longer extension of the ICOs, however, she was concerned the girls resided in short-term foster placements. She said that the girls had been referred for therapeutic services, but the service provider had stated that services could not be commenced until a long-term placement was secured. The service provider had said they would be able to engage with the girls in a supportive capacity only.

The GAL said the girls were in a compromised situation, they had no access to therapeutic supports until a long-term placement was secured but a long-term placement could not be facilitated until the results of the second parenting capacity assessment were known. She said it may be necessary for her to bring a section 47 application for the court’s direction and for the court to adjudicate on the placement and therapeutic services.

The judge said he was pleased the parties had agreed to a long extension and hoped the good work being done behind the scenes would continue. He granted an extension of an interim care orders for 10 weeks but gave all parties liberty to apply before that if it became necessary.