Interim care order extended for child who ran away from home and refused to return – 2021vol2#30

Dublin District Court extended an interim care order (ICO) in respect of a child who had run away from home and refused to return.

The ICO application was initially contested by the mother, however the court heard that the mother consented to the extension of the ICO but had requested a reduced extension of two weeks instead of 28 days.

The Child and Family Agency (CFA) solicitor told the court that the mother disputed the allegations. The solicitor said that the mother engaged with the CFA, but that the reality was that her son did not wish to return home or to have any contact with her.

The court heard that the boy had run away from home and had made allegations of assault against his mother. The mother denied the allegations. The mother’s solicitor told the court that the mother wanted her son to return home, that she would be there for her son if he wished, that she would keep in contact with the social work department and engage in any therapeutic services required.

The social worker told the court that the boy had made friends in the neighbourhood and was doing well in his foster care placement. He was afraid to return home and did not want access with his mother and he was very worried that the court would return him to her. He said that the boy had told him that he had been physically harmed by his mother, and that he did not want that to happen again. The social worker said that the boy was very scared and worried and that the voice of the child was very important.

The social worker told the court that the mother was very engaging, that she had several pets and that her house was very clean, but that she did not have any food in the house. He said that the boy had told him his mother had prepared the house for the social workers.

The mother challenged the social worker and told the court that it was not true that there was no food in her house.

Mother: “When you opened my fridge there was no food? That is a strong position to take that there was no food.”

The mother’s solicitor told the court that the mother’s car had recently been out of commission and that though there had not been a lot of food in the house, there was some. He also told the court that the mother would like to convey a message to her son: that she loved him deeply and that she was saddened by the current position, that she hoped he would return in the future and she would always be there for him. He told the court that the mother was attending her GP and was hoping to get referred to counselling. He said that she wanted it clarified that she did have food in the house.

The court was told that the Gardai were very concerned due to the nature of the allegations, therefore they did not want the mother to have any contact with the boy while they were carrying out their investigation.

The guardian ad litem (GAL) told the court that he had met with the boy in his foster care placement and found him to be very comfortable there. He said that in a short time the boy had connected with his carers and the other members of the family. He said that he had advised the carers to be on guard with the internet because the boy had visited sites such as chat rooms that contained explicit conversations. He said that the boy did his schoolwork in the kitchen every day so that the foster carers can keep an eye on him.

The GAL was asked what his view was regarding a shorter extension of the ICO. GAL: “He said that he does not want to return home, especially after what has happened this time around. I think it would not be to his benefit to come back before 28 days.”

The court noted the mother’s consent and extended the ICO for 28 days. “I am delighted that she is engaging with her family doctor,” the judge said.