Interim care order for teenage mother extended amid concerns about violent boyfriend – 2022vol1#17

An interim care order was extended in respect of one child, who was a mother, in a provincial town. The teenager had been the subject of a secure care order that had expired before the High Court. There were allegations of domestic violence made against the teenager’s boyfriend and there were concerns about the teenager’s safety upon the birth of the baby. The guardian ad litem (GAL) supported the application.

The court heard that the teenager and the baby were in a mother and baby unit and they were taking time to settle in. The baby had been allocated a social worker. Since the last court date, the CFA had applied for a protection order on behalf of the mother against the father of the baby and it had been granted by the court. The father of the baby was to remain out of the area. Security was still in place for the teenager and she had security for whenever she went anywhere.

There were periods of time when the teenager indicated she wanted to leave the placement and move home. She then said the father was not a threat and she had expressed a wish to have the father listed on the baby’s birth certificate. The GAL was of the view that it would be helpful for the teenager to get advice about the ramifications of having the father on the baby’s birth certificate.

When the father had been released from custody it was noticed by the staff in the unit that the teenager girl disengaged and became withdrawn. Prior to that when the father of the baby had been in prison, the teenager engaged well. The GAL said there had been a marked shift in her since the father had been released.

The interim care order was extended for a period of 28 days.

At a later hearing the interim care order was further extended. The court heard the teenager was still in the mother and baby unit and was described as being “down and depressed in the placement.” She had missed her six-week post-natal check-up. The staff of the unit told the social worker that the teenager had been in contact with the father of the baby and sent him inappropriate pictures which he threatened to publish.

The solicitor for the GAL said the texting [with the teenager] was in breach of the protection order and it was a matter to be referred to the Gardaí. The social workers would make efforts to get the mobile phone from the teenager.

The mother of the teenager was concerned that she had no point of contact as there was no social worker assigned to the case. The social worker said she did not agree. The teenager girl said she did not want contact with her mother. Several social workers had contacted the mother to update her and she had been kept informed of the situation. The social worker said there was a safety plan in place and they were looking to move forward.

The interim care order was subsequently extended again. On that occasion, the court heard that the boyfriend, the father of the baby, was in custody. The teenager and her baby were still in the mother and baby unit. The social worker met with the teenager and spoke to her about the placement plan. The mother was aware the placement in the mother and baby unit was to continue until the end of the year.

The teenager planned to live independently of her mother in order to prioritise her baby. The teenager was not in agreement with the CFA seeking a care order. There was tension between the mother and the teenager and that was not good for the baby. The teenager was assigned an aftercare worker and the aftercare worker applied for a charity grant to secure driving lessons for the teenager. An access review was to take place.

The solicitor for the mother said the teenager had wished to go back to her mother but the teenager then changed her mind.

The social worker said: “It is a conflicted case. Access had not taken place [with the mother of the teenager] from the teenager coming into care until the birth of the baby.”

The solicitor for the mother said the teenager did not want access due to [the boyfriend] and she was under his influence. When the boyfriend was out of the picture, the teenager’s family was her focus.

The interim care order was extended for 28 days.