Interim care order extended for two girls in provincial town – 2023vol1#17

A judge in a provincial town extended the interim care orders of two primary school aged girls with the consent of their parents. The judge noted the parents had issued an access application which would be heard within the next three weeks.

The girls had been received into the care of the Child and Family Agency (CFA) following their parent’s difficulty with addiction. Their mother had recently had a new baby who had also been received into the care of the CFA. The parents were not in court, but each had their own legal representation. Evidence was heard from the social worker and the guardian ad litem (GAL).

The social worker said the girls were doing very well and were settled. They attended school and had no difficulties. There were no health issues, no difficulties with emotional regulation, they were fully engaged in their community and had a wide circle of friends.

She said the only difficulty the girls had was with access with their parents. The girls sometimes struggled because of the presentation of their parents at access. Initially the girls had been having access with their parents every eight weeks but after a professionals’ meeting access had been increased to every six weeks. She said the mother recently had started to engage well with social services and had provided clean urine tests, this was a great step forward, it was hoped this work by the mother would continue.

The social worker said the mother was currently sober and had no reason to believe she was using any addictive substances. She understood the mother’s wish for access to be increased but the only time the girls became dysregulated or upset was after access and any increase in access had to be done at the girls’ pace. She recognised the mother’s frustration but had tried to explain the girls’ needs came first. Access was being frequently reviewed. The social worker said the girls had met their baby brother and had access with him once per month which was enjoyed by all.

The GAL said the girls were doing very well but they wanted certainty and wanted to know where they would be. They wanted the security of knowing they would be staying with their foster parents. She said: “These girls have been in foster care for four years, they deserve certainty.” An application for a full care order hearing had been made.

The judge said she had read the reports and was pleased the mother seemed to have turned a corner. The interim care orders were extended, and she hoped the application for the hearing of a full care order would receive priority.