Interim care order granted following disengagement by the mother from voluntary arrangement – 2023vol1#8

An interim care order was granted by Dublin District Court for a child of primary school age who had been in voluntary care for two years and in the care of her maternal grandfather for the previous nine months. The parents were aware of the application being made by the Child and Family Agency (CFA) but were not in court.

The social worker gave evidence that the child and her older sibling had been known to the social work team since 2007. There had been a history of mental health, domestic abuse and substance abuse issues.

In the past the child’s mother had engaged up to a point and a number of supports had been in place for her. The mother had a mental illness diagnosis and the father had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. The mother’s mental health team had made contact with the allocated social worker due to concerns they had regarding the mother’s mental health.

The child was no longer able to stay with her maternal grandfather due to his age. Following a child protection conference it was decided that the child needed a longer term placement and she had been received into care.

The court was told that that the child’s mother had engaged initially, had agreed to the voluntary arrangement and had been attending access up to September 2022 and was signing any forms necessary. However due to a deterioration in the mother’s mental health there had been no recent engagement and no access attended.

The court heard that the mother had told the CFA that she did not want any contact with the social work team. In addition, the father had attended meetings and an access visit had been arranged but could not then take place following a COVID assessment.

The social worker said that she had sent periodic letters to the parents. The child still had contact with the maternal grandfather.

The social worker said the child was thriving in her placement. She was keeping up with her peers and her care needs were being met to a high standard. She was getting on well with her foster family. The child had been diagnosed with an auditory disorder following an educational needs assessment, which indicated she needed some speech and language therapy. The school had put in certain provisions to assist.

The social worker said the child needed an interim care order as the voluntary arrangement could not be followed due to the mother’s disengagement. Prior to the mother disengaging the CFA had requested that a parental capacity assessment take place. The assessment took place and the result was that the mother did have capacity but would require supports. The CFA had some queries about the report but before they could be raised with the professional who carried out the assessment, they received word that the professional had unfortunately died.

The child was participating in drama, swimming and singing and the judge asked if she was encouraged in these activities. The social worker confirmed she was. The child was currently placed with two male carers so might benefit from a female guardian ad litem (GAL) being appointed if the court was so inclined.

The judge granted the interim care order and agreed to appoint a female GAL.