Judge stresses importance of disability supports for mother – 2020vol2#25

Issues regarding disability supports for a mother that would permit a child to return home were raised during the extension of an interim care order for one child in a provincial town. The guardian ad litem (GAL) had indicated he supported the application and the return of the child with disability supports in place.

The solicitor for the Child and Family Agency (CFA) said the social worker and acting team leader were not present due to Covid but another team leader was present. The judge said: “it looks bad that the team leader or social worker are not here. That is unsatisfactory.”

The court heard that the mother was engaging with the CFA and the care plan.

The judge said: “I have read the two reports. The background is that the mother found caring for the child an enormous task and it is right that she have assistance from the State, the move is a hugely significant event. The GAL wants this [care] plan taken into account.”

The GAL had recommended speech and language therapy and a psychological assessment.

The judge said: “The GAL is setting it out in black and white, each and every individual aspect of the care plan. The GAL says you have to move it forward and use extremely careful planning. When he uses words like extremely careful planning and when he puts that down, he is warning us that it requires planning with the HSE. If there are no disability services, the plan goes up in the air. The mother would require significant supports. You need to prepare for the GAL a [care] plan so that he can have some confidence in what you are doing.

“When you are planning you need to look at the types of problems. A parenting capacity assessment was done for the mother and he said that mother would be able to parent once there is support in place. I direct you put all the plan in writing before the next court hearing, a plan setting out the multi-dimensional nature of the plan of return with the positives and negatives pivoted on the mother engaging.”

The interim care order was extended for a period of three months.