Judge orders urgent review to take place within two weeks for teenager in a placement unsuited to her needs – 2024vol1#43

A judge in a provincial city expressed very serious concern for a teenager who was “crying out for attention”. The child, who had been subjected to trauma in her earlier life, was in a placement which did not match her needs. She was not receiving nurturing, comfort or kindness and was eating alone in her room. The judge directed that an urgent, hour-long review of the child’s case take place to address the matters of concern within two weeks.

The judge asked the lawyer for the CFA what the position was of having a solicitor appointed for the child’s GAL and the lawyer replied that this was done in very complex cases. The judge stated that this was not an easy case and asked if a solicitor could be appointed immediately for the GAL. She said she had grave concerns for the child.

The CFA lawyer said the girl was due to age out of the care system in a year’s time. She had been thrown out of her home by her mother two years previously and was refusing supports. She had been the victim of a sexual assault and her mother had mental health difficulties. Her previous placement has been ended as she had gone missing from it a number of times to meet her boyfriend in another town. She was located and a section 12 emergency care order was invoked after which she was placed in the current placement. The CFA said her current placement was not strictly a residential placement.

The judge repeated her serious concerns for the child based on the GAL’s report. Judge: “She is in a place where there is no nurturing, no comfort, no engagement and no kindness. It’s ticking boxes. This is a child who is isolated, eating alone in her room. There’s no instruction in self-care”.

The judge described the placement as having a “ramshackle approach”, where there was a mismatch between the child’s care needs and her placement. She said that the GAL’s report described the child as being short of clothing but the CFA lawyer replied that she had recently received a generous allowance for clothing.

The judge stressed that she wanted to know more detail about this child’s case, she wished to know the child’s aims and future targets, she wanted to have an urgent in-court hour-long review of the child’s case. She required a detailed report from the child’s link-worker, who should meet with the child a few times each week. She also directed that an aftercare worker be appointed and that the name of this worker should be provided to her at the review.

The judge was critical of the protocol in use by the child’s placement. The protocol dictated that the child’s GAL was not to be provided with any daily logs of the child’s activities unless this was facilitated through the social work department.

Judge: “The GAL is the court’s eyes in this. I’m not happy with this protocol.”

The judge went on to say that because the child was in care, the responsibility lay with the court. She said the GAL believed the child did not even seem to know the names of her carers. On one occasion when the child went missing from the placement, the GAL was not informed. The child was “crying out for attention”.

The judge adjourned the matter to a date two weeks later for an urgent hour-long review and she wanted to know what the child’s target was in her education. She directed that the name of the appointed aftercare worker be provided to her for the review.