Interim Care Order where serious neglect alleged – 2015vol3#35

An Interim Care Order was granted in a provincial city in respect of three children amid allegations of serious neglect. The CFA solicitor said that a member of An Garda Siochana had observed two of the children on the street outside their house at 2 am while their parents were intoxicated. The solicitor said the “children have suffered horrendous neglect while in the care of their parents”.

She said the eldest child did not know what toilet paper was for and would use his hands when going to the toilet and that the youngest child was on lowest possible percentile of weight and the baby was sleeping in a car seat even though the parents had been asked to buy a cot. She said that it was one of “the highest physical and emotional neglect cases that we have seen.”

The mother’s solicitor said that the allegations of neglect were denied. The judge asked what evidence there was of the neglect and the CFA solicitor said that there were photographs of the condition of the house that would be given to the court. A social worker said that she believed that the children’s health, development or welfare would only be upheld if they were in the care of the CFA.

This was one of a number of cases heard in the District Court in this city in one day, including both Care Order applications and a number of reviews of existing Care Orders.

A Care Order was granted for two years in a case where the mother’s whereabouts were unknown. The child was previously in the care of the CFA under a Care Order which had expired. The father of the child was in a residential centre for alcoholics and the child had been referred for assessment of foetal alcohol syndrome. A social worker told the court that the father had acknowledged his alcohol difficulties and could see why the CFA were applying for a further Care Order.

A Care Order was granted for four months in a case where a child had been in care since birth. A solicitor told the court that the mother had initially given consent for the adoption of the child by the foster parents, but had later revoked the consent, saying she wanted to look after the child. The mother had then sent an email, changing her mind again, saying that she was consenting to the adoption. The mother’s solicitor said that she needed “a period of time to reflect on the matter” and the Care Order was made for four months.

A review of a Care Order dealing with an alleged breach of access arrangements was adjourned for one week and the judge allowed the parties to the proceedings to read the reports in the case but not to photocopy them. It was also agreed that a synopsised version of private family law proceedings relating to the same family would be given to the CFA.

In another case, during a review of Care Order, the solicitor told the court that a young boy in care had been brought by his father (who was African) to a Garda station to apply for a passport and the boy had apparently told his foster parents that his father had said they would be travelling to Africa.

The father’s solicitor said that the father understood that the child was in the care of the CFA and that the child’s passport should be with the court. The solicitor denied he had said he was going to bring the child to Africa and said that the father was going to hand over the child’s passport. The same solicitor also said that the father felt that he was being unfairly treated and had been criticised about missing access visits when he had been in hospital having suffered a stroke-like illness. The solicitor said that the father would work well with the social work department and would act reasonably.

The judge directed that the child’s passport and photographs be provided to his solicitor for transmission to the CFA and directed that the child not be removed from the State.

During another review of a Care Order the judge criticised an interpreter who was acting for the mother and pointed out that, in his experience, sometimes advice or opinions were inappropriately given by interpreters. The matter was adjourned and the judge asked for a complaint to be made about the standard of interpreters.

During another review of a Care Order a solicitor told the court that the social work department had decided at a recent professionals’ meeting that a particular foster placement was not sustainable on a long term basis for a child in care as the foster parents had admitted that they were not prepared to take the child on a long-term basis.

The mother’s solicitor said the boy had demonstrated suicidal ideation and had attended counselling and that it had been a difficult year. The solicitor said that the mother was working well with the social workers and she was “a bit disappointed” that the present foster placement was coming to an end. She wanted a proper placement for the boy as he was at a vulnerable age.

The mother had told her solicitor that she understood that her son was taken into care because of her drinking but she did not understand how the foster father “drank quite a lot”. The solicitor said that he did not know if this was true but was asking the social work department to keep an eye on it. He also said that the mother would like the social work department to consider allowing overnight access between herself and her son.

During another review of a Care Order a father’s solicitor told the court that he would be taking up a parenting course and he understood the concerns about his anger management. The CFA solicitor said that there were concerns about his parenting and how well he understood the development needs of the child. The mother’s solicitor said that access with the child seemed to improve, she had secured a two bedroom house and her wish was to attain overnight access with her child.