Interim care order where mother detained in psychiatric hospital – 2020vol1#15

An interim care order was granted for a child whose mother had been admitted involuntarily to a psychiatrist hospital, under section 12 of the Mental Health Act 2001. The only people in court for the application was the solicitor for the Child and Family Agency (CFA) and the allocated social worker, as restrictions were in place during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The court had granted an emergency care order six days previously and the social worker informed the court that since the child had been taken into general foster care, bruising had been found on the child’s buttocks and disclosures were made to both the General Practitioner and foster carer that the bruising had been caused by her mother.

The social worker updated the court and said that the mother was still an involuntary patient at a local psychiatric hospital and he said that a tribunal would need to sit within 14 days of her admission to decide on the necessity of her detention in the hospital. The social worker said that the local Gardaí were concerned about her presentation and intended to investigate the allegation of physical abuse.

The social worker met with the mother a number of days previously and he was of the opinion that it was not appropriate to go through the allegations of physical abuse with her at that time, due to her ongoing treatment and presentation.

The social worker told the judge that the child had access with her maternal grandmother and the social work department were actively trying to return the child to the care of her grandmother under an interim care order. The social worker said that the grandmother had no knowledge of the child’s father.

The solicitor for the CFA sought an order dispensing with the mother’s consent to release the child’s medical records to the Gardaí, for the purpose of the investigation of physical abuse. This was granted by the judge.

The judge was satisfied that the mother was served with the application for an interim care order, but was not in a position to attend and commented that she was probably not in the best place to deal with the situation. The judge found that the child’s mother was not in a position to provide the child with appropriate care.

The judge was satisfied that the threshold had been met and granted the interim care order and said that it will continue until a time that the mother’s mental health was back on key. The judge appointed a guardian ad litemand adjourned the application for a full care order.