Interim care order extended for one week while CFA sources furniture and school uniforms prior to children going home following placement breakdown – 2023vol2#39

The mother of two school-going children agreed to the extension of interim care orders for one week, during which the Child and Family Agency (CFA) was to arrange the purchase and delivery of furniture and school uniforms for the children. The court heard that the foster care placement with a relative had broken down 10 days previously and the children had moved a number of times since and had not been in school since the placement broke down.

The court was updated on the fact that the mother had completed an inpatient drug treatment placement. There had been a timeframe for the children to return home to the mother within two to three weeks. The social worker said that the return home was now going to be taking place sooner than the social worker had envisaged.

The social worker said that they were arranging supports, both practical and emotional. She had been liaising with the local principal of the school and with the GP in relation to the supports that were needed for the children and in relation to the therapy services the mother was receiving and would continue to use. The mother had secured a place for the children in school and her two sisters had been identified as support. There was a funding request in with the CFA for furniture and the CFA solicitor said if it was ordered that day it would be delivered within the next two to three days.

In relation to support services, the CFA informed the court that a private family support service had been sourced for the family and they would provide 35 hours per week of support services that would help with routines. The timeframe for the return of the children had been flagged with the area manager and they were chasing the referrals.

The court was told that the guardian ad litem (GAL) had met with the children and supported the transition.

In relation to schooling, the mother had secured places for the children because they had not been in school for the 10 days since the placement broke down. In addition, resource hours were needed for one of the children in both Maths and English.

The social worker said she was going to have a meeting with the school and have a handover between one school and the other. The social worker also said that the mother would receive money for allowances for school expenses and the social work department would help her with that.

The social worker said that they were working towards reunification but did not want to do it in an unplanned and unsupported manner. They wanted it to be a success and asked for an extension of the interim care order (ICO) for two weeks.

The barrister for the mother questioned whether this met the legal threshold on necessity and proportionality, taking into account all of the circumstances, that the children were not in school, that there was no plan for the school, and that they could go home if the supports were in place. In addition, the barrister said that there was no guarantee that there was a placement for the children from tomorrow, they could be moved again.

He said that the only thing preventing the children returning home was a third-party agency providing the beds, the only evidence for extending the interim care order was based on schooling, the beds and the supports being put in place for the mother.

The judge rose and said she would return and hear from the guardian.

On the judge’s return the CFA said the agency was seeking an ICO for just one week, on the basis that the CFA social workers would meet with the mother’s sisters that day, the children would return home the next day, and there would be a link-in as soon as possible with the referral services and the bedding would be sourced.

The mother’s barrister said that his client would consent to a one-week extension on the clear basis that the children would return home the next day and that the social worker would finance the purchase of the school uniforms and arrange for the supports to be put in place. The GAL supported the ICO application for one week.

The judge said that she would extend the ICO for one week and directed that two beds be purchased and delivered to the mother’s home by close of business the next day and that two school uniforms be purchased and delivered to the mother by close of business the next day. She also directed that the CFA would indicate by close of business within two days if the support service was approved.

She adjourned the section 18 application and noted that the mother gave consent for a one-week extension.