Judge criticises lack of continuity and professionalism following changeover of child’s social worker- 2022vol2#41

A judge in a rural court was very critical of the Child and Family Agency (CFA) for seeking to adjourn a care review because there had been a changeover of social workers. The previous social worker had left her position and the current social worker was on leave. The judge said it was unhelpful and unprofessional.

The lawyer for the CFA told the judge that she was making an application for an adjournment of a care review. When the judge enquired why the review was not going ahead as scheduled on the list, the lawyer for the CFA replied that there had been a change of social workers; the previous social worker had left the position and the person who replaced her had gone on leave.

The judge said that his view was that when a social worker finished off, he or she should complete a report prior to leaving, which would cover the time up until the termination date.

Judge: “I find it extremely unhelpful and unprofessional…especially where the social worker has a really good relationship with a child.”

The judge stated that there should be no need for adjournments in situations like the present case as it was not acceptable.

Judge: “This is a court review, not an internal review. The child is the one that is suffering.”

The judge said that the child may want to review his own file on reaching the age of 18 and may find that there is a large gap in the file. The reason given for seeking the adjournment was just not an acceptable reason.

Judge: “Every review should be focussed and bespoke to the child’s needs and not generic.”

The judge reluctantly listed the matter for review on a date three months later.