Interim care order extended for traumatised non-national teenage girl with complex needs – 2023vol1#26

The court extended for a further 28 days an interim care order for young teenage girl originally from Africa who was in hospital. The girl’s parents did not contest the application and the guardian ad litem (GAL) supported it.

The judge, who was already familiar with the case, told the lawyer for the Child and Family Agency (CFA) that she was happy to proceed with the application to extend the interim care order on the basis of the social worker’s affidavit evidence but that she wanted to hear from the GAL.

The GAL told the court that the young girl was highly traumatised. She had been in hospital where a psychotherapy service had been available to her on a weekly basis. She said that she had spent a lot of time explaining to the girl that she was not in trouble. A key worker had also been present at that meeting.

The GAL told the court that there had been significant behavioural issues at school. The young girl had had a medical procedure in hospital, but she did not trust the medical profession. She said that the girl had been worried that the information was “out there” that she had allowed surgery to be completed on her.

The GAL also mentioned that there had been a psychotic episode which had been concerning. She said that the young girl lied to medical workers but that she was a very complex individual with massive medical needs. The young girl was one of eight children. The GAL said that the girl had had contact with her mother on one occasion and had spoken about wanting to return to her home country in Africa. However, she had had no contact with her family at all during the previous month.

The GAL said that, for the time being, the young girl was happy in the short-term residential placement in which she was staying, but that she needed a long-term placement. The young girl could not commence proper therapy until she was in a stable placement.

The young girl had attended the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) the previous week but she had struggled to respond to the staff as a result of her deep distrust of them – “she lies in answer to questions”. This had been quite challenging for the staff to handle. The GAL said that the young girl has felt enormous emotional pressure at school. Her fellow school mates have said to her: “Why did you speak out, we’ve all had this done to us?”

The GAL said that the young girl is dissociated from her body. She said that the young girl needed a long-term placement and that the other elements would fall into place once this happened. School had improved a little but there still had been quite a lot of disruptions, all of which had been documented.

A lot more work needed to be done to deal with the young girl’s mental health issues. The GAL said that the young girl gave answers she thought people wanted to hear but that these were not the real answers.

The GAL told the court that she wanted to know what services had been approached by the CFA in respect of the young girl and where things stood in respect to the provision of those services. The CFA’s lawyer confirmed to the judge that the CFA would contact the GAL to provide her with that information.

The judge, having read the social worker’s affidavit and having heard from the GAL, was satisfied that the threshold for an interim care order continued to be met and extended the order for a further 28 days.