Interim care orders were extended for children of Traveller families in two separate cases in a provincial town. In both cases the father was in custody.
In the first case, involving one child, the whereabouts of the mother were unknown as she had not made contact with Child and Family Agency (CFA) for a number of months and she had not provided contact details. The guardian ad litem (GAL) supported the application.
There was a suggestion that the mother was staying with a relative. The solicitor for the CFA said there was information also that the mother may be in a treatment facility. The solicitor said efforts had been made to see if the mother had accessed homeless accommodation.
The team leader said the child was doing well and was at preschool. He attended an ophthalmologist and he was making good progress. Sibling access was to take place by video call every two to three weeks. The solicitor for the father said the father was availing of counselling in prison and hoped to gain entry to a treatment programme.
The judge said: “The treatment queue is very long and it leaves judge’s hands tied. I have spoken to him [the father] and he is a very good dad. I respect his intention to get treatment.”
The interim care order as extended for a period of 28 days.
In the second case an interim care order was extended for two pre-school children. There were concerns regarding the safety of the mother and children due to a risk posed by a male who was due for release from prison in the coming months.
The solicitor for the Child and Family Agency (CFA) said the children were placed in a non-relative placement. There was a plan for reunification of the children with the mother but a number of matters needed to be addressed including accommodation.
The judge asked if there had been engagement between the mother and the male who had due to be released from prison.
The solicitor for the CFA said: “If he is released from prison, he may have access to the site.
She [the mother] is looking for accommodation outside the site. The site where she is living is remote. If he [the male] had access [to the site], there would be no support. She [the mother] is recognising the risk and what needs to be done.” The mother was identifying support people.
A parenting capacity assessment was due to take place the following week. The solicitor for the GAL said the release of the male from prison “would be a testing time for the family.”
The solicitor for the CFA said the Agency would provide a roadmap for reunification on the next occasion.
The interim care order was extended for 28 days.