Introduction 2021 Vol 1

We publish below 53 reports of cases attended by the CCLRP, mainly in 2021. Some of the cases are ongoing, others have come to a conclusion.

A number of themes emerge. As usual, addiction, mental health issues among parents, sometimes combined with a degree of cognitive impairment and often social isolation, all combine to make parents vulnerable and unable to provide adequate care for their children. In addition, this volume shows the seriousness of sometimes acute mental health issues among children, the growing need for care of unaccompanied minors and the prevalence of domestic violence. Issues relating to COVID-19, especially in relation to access between children in care and their parents, continue to affect children in care or needing care.

The seriousness of the issue of mental health problems among very young children is illustrated in a couple of cases. In one, the Child and Family Agency reported difficulties in finding a suitable residential placement for a disturbed young boy who was too young for a special care placement, which is only open to children between the ages 11 and 18 who can be detained in such a unit for therapeutic and educational support. The young boy was deemed to be a risk to his mother and siblings, yet there was no suitable residential placement for him. Eventually one was found in a distant part of the country.

In another case a teenager who threatened to harm both his parents and himself was placed in an emergency hostel, described as totally unsuitable by his guardian ad litem. His parents went to court in an attempt to have the HSE find an in-patient bed for him, so that he could receive an urgent psychiatric assessment. However, he was not considered at such an acute state of mental illness that he could be accommodated immediately, and he remained at home with supports.

The reports also reveal some positive outcomes for children and their families. They include the case of a boy who spent 11 years in care and was preparing to sit his Leaving Certificate with a view to studying social work, as well as the reunification of a young mother and her baby following the discharge of a supervision order, where the mother had received supports from the CFA.

These reports reveal the complexity of the cases the Child and Family has to deal with, and the need for additional resources especially in the area of children’s mental health.