Interim care order for two months, longer order sought for assessments – 2022vol1#45

A judge in a rural town granted an extension of an interim care order for two months but asked the mother’s legal representative to liaise with the mother to try to ascertain if she would consent to a longer period for certain assessments to be completed.

This application concerned a primary school aged child who had been in the care of the Child and Family Agency (CFA) for some time. Evidence was heard from the social worker on behalf of the CFA and from the guardian ad litem (GAL). The mother was legally represented but not in court as she had given birth to a new baby within the last week.

The social worker said she had liaised with the social work department in the city where the mother had given birth. She told the court that to the best of her knowledge there was no safety plan for the mother’s new baby. She had sought a meeting with the social work department in the city, to express her concerns and inform them that she believed a safety plan was necessary for the new baby but no meeting had been forthcoming.

The child of this application was doing very well and was very settled in her foster placement. The child had been having access visits with her mother and these had gone well but the child was always anxious to return to the foster placement. The child was aware that her mother had a new baby, and she was very excited to meet the baby. An access visit had been planned. The social worker had secured funding for the mother to undergo an attachment assessment but this would not start for approximately four months and would include the mother’s new baby.

The GAL told the court that the child was doing very well, was very settled and secure in her placement and had become a part of the foster family. She had many discussions with the child who had clearly and repeatedly told the GAL that she knew her mother and liked to have access visits with her but wanted to stay with her foster family. She said: “The child had said ‘she loved her mother but she did not want to live with her mother’.”

The GAL said it was a difficult situation because the child needed certainty and security for her future. The mother needed to complete assessments and other work to ascertain if a reunification plan could be facilitated. The judge said she was anxious for the child to have security and urged all parties to consider either a re-unification plan or a section 18 application for a full care order.

The judge granted an interim care order for two months with the consent of the mother. She asked if a longer consent from the mother might be sought for the assessments and other work to be completed.