Interim care order for baby in hospital since birth – 2021vol1#40

The District Court made an interim care order in respect of a baby (Child B) who was born with a serious birth defect linked to his mother’s drug use during pregnancy. The solicitor for the Child and Family Agency (CFA) told the court that the baby had been in hospital since his birth.

The CFA solicitor said that the application was for an interim care order in respect of two young children, but there was agreement that Child A would remain with a close relative for the time being. The solicitor said she was seeking to proceed with the application for the baby, B, and intended to call the social worker who had been recently allocated to the baby.

Both the mother and father were legally represented and the court was told that they were consenting to the applications.

The social worker said that B had been born before Christmas, but was still in hospital. She said he had been diagnosed with a serious medical condition and “requires ongoing care.” She said there were “serious concerns” around both the mother and father’s drug use and that the mother was “using drugs throughout the pregnancy” and the mother’s drug usage was a major factor in the baby’s medical issues.

The social worker was asked about the plan for the baby on release from hospital and said that a suitable placement had been arranged with the public health nurse. She said that a Covid-19 risk assessment was being drawn up and access was going to be offered to the parents three times per week.

CFA solicitor: “What progress would you like to see the parents making?”

Social worker: “The biggest issue is addiction. They need to engage with a suitable support service for addiction issues and attend for drug treatment. They need to be stabilised on a programme.”

The father’s barrister said that both parents had already started engaging with a drug addiction service and the father had attended every session so far. She asked the social worker whether any other support services were being considered by the CFA, or if a referral was necessary.

Social worker: “A lot of addiction services incorporate counselling into the sessions. Stability in a drug treatment programme is important, but also the counselling that comes along with it will be important.”

The social worker said that improvements also needed to be made with regard to “house maintenance.” She said she had been refused entry to the home on two recent occasions. The father’s barrister said the father had made “significant improvements” since the social worker’s last home visit and was happy to have her attend to inspect the house.

Having heard the evidence, the judge said he was satisfied that grounds existed to make the interim care order in respect of the baby. He appointed a guardian ad litem (GAL) and adjourned the application for an interim care order in respect of Child A, noting that there was agreement in relation to her care for the time being.