Mother asks court to ensure child gets appropriate accommodation on release from prison – 2020vol2#8

The mother of a child due to be released shortly from Oberstown prison brought a Section 47 application in the District Court seeking an appropriate placement for him when he was released. The CFA sought a short adjournment of the application, with the mother’s consent.

The court was told that the adjournment was sought on the basis that the social work team were precluded from making an application for a placement until 30 days before the young person’s release date, and to date had been unable to proceed with any placement application. A meeting was scheduled to make a plan for when the child leaves Oberstown and the types of residential placements that might be available needed to be considered.

The barrister for the mother informed the court that the mother had brought the section 47 application as she was concerned about the young person previously being in hostel type accommodation and was anxious that he be provided with “appropriate care on release”. The mother was in agreement with the suggestions made by the guardian ad litem (GAL) and agreed to the adjournment.

The solicitor for the GAL told the court that the GAL asked her to highlight his concerns that it was a “very vulnerable child and with quite a fractious relationship with his mother”. Prior to Oberstown the young person was in an out-of-hours hostel. The GAL was concerned that the social work team was not based in Dublin and that appropriate placements in Dublin were reserved for Dublin social work referrals.

GAL solicitor: “[The GAL] did want to highlight that there appear to be a number of after-care placements in Dublin and some CFA placements. It seems that those placements are reserved for Dublin social work teams’ referrals and the GAL is anxious that he has an equal opportunity and the right to be considered for a placement in Dublin… [he] want to be sure [the child] can be put forward and considered for those placements.”

The CFA solicitor said that she wanted the CFA to have an opportunity to consider the issues raised by the GAL.

Judge: “This court does not deem homeless accommodation suitable for children.”

The CFA solicitor provided the court with some background as to how the young person was previously in homeless accommodation. She told the court that the young person was previously in special care and during that time he received a custodial sentence and when that sentence expired he was returned to the special care placement.

CFA solicitor: “There was an incident [which is] the subject of a criminal investigation against the child in March 2020. The placement served notice to the CFA that it couldn’t sustain his placement in that unit. Then in March the CFA implored the placement to maintain his placement. I think there was a further incident and the placement completely broke down and there was no further placement and the only option was hostel homeless accommodation where a high level of support is provided.”

The CFA solicitor told the court that the difficulty the CFA had was that it was “a very vulnerable child but his risk profile is quite serious”. The solicitor said that a “number of providers had simply refused to assess or provide a placement” and matters were then overtaken by his entry into Oberstown. The CFA solicitor said that she accepted that it was “not ideal to be placed in homeless accommodation” but that was an overview of how the young person came to be in that accommodation.”

The CFA solicitor told the court that the options that had been identified by the GAL “were very helpful and the CFA will be taking those placements on board.”

The barrister for the mother told the court that the mother had made representations seeking to have the young person taken back into special care and the “mother was doing her upmost to press upon the CFA that they need to act because the behaviour he was engaging in was significant.” The court was told that there had been consideration as to whether a special care order was of benefit as there were significant issues during that time and the young person was due to age out soon.

The judge asked if the child was aware as to what might happen when he turns 18. The court was told that the GAL had spoken to him about what might happen then and that he did not want him in special care until 18 and “then discharged with no placement and [he] becomes homeless” and that he “needs an appropriate aftercare placement now”.

The judge adjourned the section 47 application to 9th July 2020.

Judge: “Hopefully the child will consider his position carefully.”