One child reunited with parents, work ongoing for reunification with three others – 2023vol1#56

A good news story was heard by a judge in the Dublin Metropolitan District where one of four children was to be reunified with her parents that day and work was ongoing in respect of the other children with a hope that they also could be reunified in time.

The Child and Family Agency (CFA) solicitor told the court that a huge amount of work had been done by both the parents and the social work department and that the CFA was seeking to withdraw both the section 17 and section 18 applications in respect of one child. The CFA was seeking extensions of the interim care orders (ICOs) for the other three, and the court heard that the parents consented on a “without prejudice” basis.

The CFA said that the social work team and the parents were to meet again to discuss how best to move toward reunification with the other three children.

The court was told that there were referrals in relation to one of the children’s placements regarding historical issues and that the parents wanted information in relation to those issues. The CFA solicitor confirmed they were preparing a chronology in respect of that allegation.

The barrister for the mother said that some of the issues which she had highlighted had been resolved outside of court. She confirmed to the court that the girl was returning home that day and that the mother was thrilled to have her daughter back. The court was updated on the fact the child was undergoing a global assessment of need and was also completing an attachment assessment.

In respect of the other three children the barrister for the mother said that the mother would like to see her children coming back. She wanted to work with the social work team. She was anxious that the court did not think that there was any favouritism for one child over the other three. She said that a lot more access and a lot more supports were required.

Regarding the historical issues in the placement the barrister had told the court that it related to one of the children allegedly being locked in their bedroom at night. The barrister for the mother said she was anxious to understand the details as the parents had only found out about this issue when they had read the guardian ad litem’s (GAL) report on the morning of the day’s hearing. The barrister said that if any issues caused by the parents had arisen at access they would have been referred immediately without discussion. The allegations were not fabricated, the parents had initial frustration in relation to this matter and further applications might be needed.

The father’s barrister for the father indicated that she had nothing further to add than what had already been put forward on behalf of the mother.

The solicitor for the GAL handed in reports and said that a huge journey had been taken and it would take time for the child to settle in. The GAL supported the extension of the ICOs in respect of the other three children.

The judge noted that the GAL was supporting the application for the extension and that the parents were consenting to the extension of the ICOs for the other three children. On that basis he extended the ICO’s and adjourned the section 18 applications.

The judge withdrew both the section 17 and section 18 applications for the child who had been reunified and struck out the section 47 access application in respect of that child also.