Interim care order extended where mother has mental health issues, father deceased – 2020vol1#10

An interim care order was extended in respect of a three-year-old child in Dublin District Court. The mother was not present and suffered from mental health issues and alcohol misuse and the father was deceased. The GAL supported the application.

There were concerns regarding the placement and a fostering assessment was due to commence. The social worker said the child lived with her maternal grandmother in a private arrangement. In December 2018, the mother had overnight access with the child but relapsed and the child was taken into care on foot of an emergency care order.

The social worker had a discussion with the mother about the need for a professional assessment. The mother suffered from an alcohol addiction and developed a serious illness as a direct result of her alcohol consumption. The mother said she had an appointment with a residential [addiction] unit.

The social worker said: “I will support her in any way [I can].” The mother was of the view that she was suffering from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder and she wanted to do something to prevent future relapses. The mother gave verbal consent to undergo a psychological assessment and the psychologist provided the CFA with a breakdown of what needed to be done and the cost of the assessment. The psychologist could meet the mother in two months to conduct the assessment.

The maternal grandmother and her partner were to undergo a fostering assessment. However, a series of concerns were raised regarding the partner’s alcohol misuse and the assessment had been stalled. The social workers started to investigate the concerns and an outcome meeting was due to take place soon. The maternal grandmother had not been as up front with the CFA as she could have been, the social worker said. The relationship between the grandmother and partner had since broken down and the child was not impacted by the departure of the partner.

The GAL recommended that the child stay in the placement and the mother have two accesses per week. The court heard the mother struggled leaving access and saying goodbye to the child. The GAL said the child was “doing well in spite of the external issues going on.” The child benefitted from time spent with the mother. The child was reading and her speech was good.

The GAL said: “The child has lived with her grandmother all her life. If the mother wants reunification to happen, something would have to happen [with her alcohol and mental health issues].”

The judge extended the interim care order for a period of six months but listed the matter for review in two months’ time. The judge said: “These matters have to progress.” The judge wanted to know the status of the psychological intervention of the mother and when the intervention would commence along with an update and what supports were needed if the grandmother was to be the sole foster carer of the child.