Judge orders report on failings in case, including failure to allocate a social worker; report to be sent to HIQA – 2023vol1#49

The Child and Family Agency (CFA) brought an application before the court seeking a lengthy adjournment in a case involving two children in care under section 18 full care orders. The solicitor for the mother objected to the adjournment and alleged that there had been serious failings in the case due to the fact that there had been no social worker allocated to the children and no social worker involved since early 2022.

The mother’s solicitor said that the “CFA are failing in their obligations under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and failing to be proactive in taking any positive steps.” The mother’s solicitor told the court that the mother has attempted to make contact with the social work team on 43 separate occasions to arrange access without any response from the social work team.

The mother’s solicitor added that the social work team had failed to put in any work in relation to the case.

The guardian ad litem (GAL) was not present in court but copies of the report were handed in. The solicitor for the GAL indicated that they would not disagree with anything put forward by the solicitor for the mother but given that the CFA were looking for an adjournment it was necessary to be pragmatic about how long it would take to get things done.

The mother’s solicitor was asked what might be a reasonable timeframe. The solicitor said the CFA should write a report within one week detailing what steps needed to be done including statutory child-in-care reviews.

The judge questioned the CFA lawyer as to when they could have the report done. The lawyer said that they had assigned a team leader to the case. The team leader had met with the children and had spoken with the GAL. The CFA said they would prepare a report within two weeks.

The judge said his concerns were that these were in camera proceedings and there was no one to know that there was no social worker in the case. The judge asked that the report be prepared outlining a list of the failures in the case, to include how long there had been no social worker involved and how long overdue the statutory child-in-care review was. This report was to be sent to the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) and circulated to all parties before the next court date. The judge said it was necessary for someone to know outside of the CFA that there were issues with managing budget and recruitment.