Interim care order for young child whose immigration status uncertain – 2021vol2#23

An interim care order was extended in respect of one child in a provincial town. The mother was from an African country and in a treatment facility. The identity of the father was unknown and the paternity of the child had not been established. The guardian ad litem (GAL) supported the application.

The child was born in 2019 and was received into care as her mother was very unwell and admitted to a psychiatric unit following her birth. The mother became an inpatient in the psychiatric unit this year. There were issues in relation to the child’s immigration status.

The social worker said the child was flourishing in her placement and attended creche five days a week. She was mixing with other children of her own age. There were concerns about access prior to the mother’s hospitalisation. The social workers contacted the mother’s consultant in relation to her capacity as they wanted to be able to make an access plan for the child.

The judge asked about FaceTime access for the child.  The social worker said: “It [FaceTime access] actually happened. It was sporadic and borderline worrying at times given the mother’s presentation.” The foster carers were excellent at facilitating the video calls and the access was working up to a point.

The social workers wanted to obtain a passport for the child but could not progress the application. The embassy of the mother’s country of origin was closed and the application could not be progressed while the mother was in the treatment unit.

A man, believed to be the father, had been approached for a DNA test but he opted out of the testing and had not engaged since. The social worker spoke with the GAL and they agreed it was important for the child to move forward with the passport application as the child was getting older and would be starting school in the future.

The judge extended the interim care order for a period of 28 days and said the issue of the passport should be explored with the GAL.