Reunification planned in review of short care order – 2018vol2#24

The District court in a rural town heard a review of a six-month care order of two children who were in foster care. There was one witness, a social worker. Both parents were legally represented and the mother was present in court. The father and his solicitor were not expected to attend.

The case concerned two young primary school age children where there was a history of domestic violence. The local hospital had made the referral to the CFA. The father had been convicted for assault earlier in the year and had left the family home. The children had health issues and the mother found it difficult to cope as a single parent.

Prior to the six-month care order there had been a three-month supervision order, an emergency care order and four interim care orders. The children had been in foster care for seventeen months and there were plans to reunify the children with their mother when the care order expired in three months.

The children were having unsupervised contact with their mother and some overnights were planned. The children had supervised contact with their father on alternate weeks and weekly phone calls. Child A was reluctant at times to see her father but mostly enjoyed access with him. The children continued to struggle with their past. Child A was receiving therapy and was finding it difficult to talk about her distress.

The court heard the CFA was happy with the level of progress and co-operation with the mother but less so with the father. The judge said: “The father is in stubborn denial.” The father described his previous family life as “perfect” to the CFA. Plans for a sustainable return to their mother’s care and safe extension of contact with their father were progressing well, the court heard.

Mother’s solicitor: “Hopefully some degree of reunification will happen.”

Judge: “I wish the parents well, especially the mother who has turned a corner.”

The judge deemed the review satisfactory and gave both sides liberty to apply on 14 days’ notice to either side.