Interim Care Order extended for boy where parental capacity assessment awaited – 2023vol1#25

A judge in a rural District Court extended an interim care order for a boy with anxiety and intellectual limitations while his mother awaited a parental capacity assessment. The boy was living with a relative.

The court was told that a parental capacity assessment (PCA) for the mother had been agreed and draft terms had been agreed and sent to the psychologist for review. A commencement date was awaited.

The social worker said that the Child and Family Agency (CFA) required the PCA to be completed before any recommendations could be made. The child was currently living with a relative, was attending school and had access with his mother. The social worker commended the mother for her access and said it was going very well and that they were moving to unsupervised access in the family home.

The child had told the social worker that he wished to return home to his mother. The child had had an assessment completed and he had a low IQ and a number of supports have been recommended. The court heard that he also suffered from anxiety.

The social worker said that “life story” work was to begin with the mother this week and play therapy could also be starting soon. The child had made his Confirmation recently and that went very well. The father had also been at the Confirmation and had been having access, though the social worker said that he had not answered her calls

The father was not in a position to care for the boy but wanted access.

The solicitor for the mother said that there was no consent to the application. She said that the PCA had been agreed to and asked when it could start. It had been due to start in April and had been delayed. Asked how long it would take, the social worker said perhaps two to three months. The solicitor said that her client was anxious to have the child returned to her, he was upset and wanted to return to his mother.

The court heard that the child should start secondary school in September. The solicitor for the mother indicated that the child wanted to go to school in the local town and asked whether any applications had been made to schools there. The social worker said he was on a waiting list for his first option but that there was no waiting list for his second option.

An issue had arisen concerning the mother’s use of codeine, as there had been a positive result for codeine the previous summer. Her solicitor asked for funding for a drug test as it was in everyone’s best interests that it was confirmed one way or the other whether the mother had an issue with codeine. The solicitor said her client she was only taking medication for depression and arthritis and codeine usage should be ruled out.

In relation to access the solicitor said her client would like to take the child out on his own. She asked the social worker if she was aware that the mother had support in the area from the father’s family.

The court heard that the GAL was supporting the application. He said that the initial trajectory had been amended but that it was hoped that the child would return to his mother. It was necessary to complete the PCA and to complete a review then of the supports that were needed with a view to a permanent move home.

The next steps were that the access should be increased to a full morning between the child and his mother and it was crucial that the PCA was completed.

The judge noted there was no consent from the mother to the ICO being extended but extended it for 28 days pending the outcome of the PCA, which might not be ready by the next court date.