Interim care order for young child granted, mother’s consent to assessment of need dispensed with – 2023vol2#4

An interim care order was granted by Dublin District Court for a young child who had been in care under a voluntary agreement. The mother struggled to engage with drug treatment services and was difficult to contact. She did not attend the court hearing, was not legally represented and had not met the social workers to sign a consent form for an assessment of the child’s needs. The father was unknown. The child had some developmental delay.

As well as the application for the interim care order the Child and Family Agency (CFA) had a section 47 application before the court in relation to an assessment of need. The social worker gave evidence that she had contacted the mother who stated that she had received the papers but was not going to attend the proceedings. In addition, phone calls to the mother were not answered. The social worker said that the contact between the mother and child had been up and down and the child was finding that difficult.

The court heard that the child had previously spent time in care. The mother wanted the child to go into care so that she could focus on her own self as she struggled to engage with drug services. The social worker said that the mother did attend one meeting but was not able to maintain the meetings. The mother had last had access in mid-2023 and that had an impact on the child.

The social worker told the court that the child was doing well in foster care. The child attended play therapy and there was no end date for that. The child was in senior infants in school and did need additional resources, including help with his reading. He found it difficult to concentrate but he did love school. He went on holidays with his foster family during the summer. The social worker said that there had been some developmental delay, it was likely that the child would have ongoing appointments in relation to speech and language and occupational therapy together with a psychological assessment. There was a need for the child to start to feel safe and then they would begin life story work. The current voluntary care arrangement was compromising the care that could be provided for the child and an interim care order under section 17 order was thus necessary.

The judge asked if there were any other children in the foster care home and it was confirmed that there was one other child. The judge also asked why the child had been sent to an Irish language school. The court was informed that the other child in the household was at that school and the child loved Irish, he found Maths hard, but he was managing the Irish very well. The court heard that the foster carers had made a request for respite as the child was “full on”. When the child was asked about his father, he said that he was dead but there were different stories in relation to that.

The judge was satisfied that the threshold was met and made an interim care order for 28 days. She also granted the CFA’s application to dispense with the mother’s consent for an assessment of need to be carried out for the child. The judge also appointed a guardian ad litem (GAL) to the child.