Interim care order extended where drug abuse and mental health concerns – 2020vol1#11

An interim care order was extended in respect of three children where there were three potential respondent fathers, one was identified as the natural father, the second potential father was non-contactable and the third father was acting in loco parentis. The mother and the natural father consented. There were issues of mental health and drug misuse on the part of the parents. The GAL supported the application. Child A and child B were placed together while Child C was placed with a relative and this placement was under strain.

The social worker said the children had been placed in short term care. The social workers wanted to keep child A and child B together and had started a transition plan. The children would move into the new placement during the week, the social worker said. The social workers and the children went to the new foster carers’ home and spent some hours there.

A referral was made to a psychologist to carry out work with the foster carers about attachment. The foster carers were on the waiting list for the assessment.

There were issues of drug misuse and mental health on the part of the parents.  The social worker said: “The pattern was that they [the parents] would improve but deteriorate to a worse [condition].” The parents acknowledged they were not in a position to care for the children. The father was on methadone but was failing his urinalysis. He had not attended his general practitioner. The father contacted many residential units and was told a place was not available.

The mother was engaging with a number of services and was trying to gain a place in a residential programme. She had engaged with her counsellor. The lack of availability of a bed in the residential unit was causing a problem for the mother’s recovery. The social worker said: “We feel strongly both parents need treatment.”

The mother attended every access. She was prepared and brought snacks. The mother was seeking extended access during the summer.

A close relative had been approved as a foster carer and was looking after child C. The foster mother was struggling with the behaviour of child C. The social worker said: “It is posing a difficulty as he [child C] will be back at school soon.” She needed assistance to take him to and from school. The relative was not sure if she could maintain the placement. Child C would say he was happy in his placement and he did not have a problem there.

The GAL said child C was a “troubled little lad.”  He had experienced trauma and was struggling.  His first foster placement broke down and he was hitting child B. The GAL said: “[Child C] loves his [relative]. He is not used to boundaries and they are struggling with that.” The foster father had to get up early for work but C was up late at night making noise.

The GAL said: “The foster carers love [C] and they are finding it hard. If they are willing to commit to [C]. I will look at the supports I could get.” Psychotherapy was essential for child C. The GAL said: “He [C] is a brick wall when you talk about the parents. He needs a lot of work.”

Child A loved her foster mother and would miss her when she moved placement. Child A was happy to go to the new foster placement but was worried about changing school and making friends. The GAL was of the opinion that A could benefit from play therapy.

Child B struggled with routine. Bernardos did good work with him but he had to repeat a year at the creche.

The judge was satisfied the threshold was met and the interim care order was extended for a period of two months.