Interim care order extended for infant whose mother homeless and had mental health difficulties – 2023vol2#9

A judge in a rural town granted an extension of an interim care order for a young infant whose mother was homeless and had mental health difficulties. A date was set for the hearing of a full care order application.

The mother was not in court but was legally represented by a solicitor and a barrister. The father was not present and had no legal representation. The solicitor for the Child and Family Agency (CFA) requested the court to set dates for a full care order hearing in addition to an extension of an interim care order.

The barrister for the mother said the mother currently had specific difficulties. The mother was homeless, had low spirits, was distressed, had mental health difficulties but was trying her best. She said the mother had consented to the application to extend the interim care order but had not consented to the setting of dates for the full care order hearing.

The social worker said that there had been no contact with the father, and she had no contact details for him. She said the mother had told her she was not in a relationship with the infant’s father but would pass on the father’s contact details to the social worker. She said the mother had not really engaged with her, as the mother had felt that domestic violence allegations had been forced on her by professionals.

She said the mother had taken responsibility for drugs that had been found in her accommodation. The mother had been evicted from her accommodation and had been banned from further local authority accommodation for 12 months. The mother was homeless and had been couch-surfing. The social worker had referred her to homeless charities and referred her to an advocacy service who had sourced and appointed an advocate for the mother. She hoped the mother would be able to gain some support from this service and the service had agreed to store the mother’s belongings.

The social worker said the infant was doing very well and had reached all his developmental milestones. He had settled in his foster placement. She said that access between the mother and the infant had been stopped because of the mother’s presentation but it had recently been reinstated and had gone well for both of them. It was obvious that they both enjoyed access. She said she was seeking section 18, full care order hearing dates as the infant needed security, stability, and certainty. It was not reasonable to expect an infant to live from one interim care order to the next.

The guardian ad litem (GAL) said that the infant was doing very well, and he had thrived. She said that she tried to keep the mother involved by sending her photographs of the child. She said: “[the mother] really does love him and it shows in access, but she cannot keep him safe.” The mother had a terrible history and had no safety person. She said that the services were available to the mother, but the mother was just not able to engage.

The judge noted the consent of the mother to an extension of the interim care order and extended the order for 28 days. She said that she had read the reports and would set section 18 care order hearing dates for three months’ time.