Interim care order for baby extended as parental assessment prepared for parents – 2023vol1#13

An interim care order was extended in a provincial District Court for an infant in foster care whose mother had been in care herself. The court was told that a copy of a parental capacity and cognitive assessment had been received and feedback over the phone would be facilitated with both parents. The mother’s counsel expressed concern that it might be difficult for the mother to understand the recommendations and it was agreed to consider face-to-face feedback and to share a copy of the assessments with her legal team.

The court heard the baby was doing well in foster care. The mother had taken up only one of the last four weekly access visits and the father had taken up none. The mother had an EPIC advocate in court with her and was legally represented. The father was not legally represented and was not in court.

The Child and Family Agency (CFA) social worker told the court the mother had attended two parenting sessions offered by the CFA and the father had not attended any. The court heard the baby was doing well in foster care and the mother, while wanting to have her child back, recognised she was being well looked after.

Counsel for the mother told the court it was difficult for the mother who had been in care herself to see her baby at a CFA access centre and she might need some psychological intervention to help her with this. The guardian ad litem (GAL) agreed and said the mother was not long out of care herself. The CFA social worker said there was a waiting list for HSE primary care psychology but she could apply for funding if necessary.

The parental capacity assessor had recommended the parents receive training in the Marteo Meo techniques on attachment. The GAL said this was particularly important for the mother given her own poor experiences of being parented. The CFA solicitor told the court that a number of people in the CFA could provide training in this.

The judge extended the interim order into the next month’s sitting for the baby and gave directions for updates regarding what psychological services could be accessed, time scale and alternatives to the parental viability assessment and access. She gave permission for the matter to be re-entered (brought back to court) in the event of a proposed change of placement.