Reunification possible if drug use addressed – 2015vol3#27

An application for an Interim Care Order heard that a child was doing well in her foster placement and that the child’s mother was giving clear drug screens to the social work department as requested. A social worker said that the mother was being requested to continue to engage with addiction services so that she could be assessed with regard to possible reunification with her child. The reason for this was that the mother was a “very good parent when things are going well for her” the social worker said but “the problem is staying clean”.

The mother’s solicitor said that the mother had been concerned that she had not made it clear (on the last court date) that it was her desire to have her child returned to her and that she was fully engaging with substance misuse services who had confirmed that her last three urine samples had been clean and that all that had showed up on the samples was the methadone she was taking.

The mother’s solicitor said that the mother knew that she had a long way to go and she was highly motivated. The solicitor said that she had spoken to the mother’s support worker who knew her very well and said that she was the most focussed she had ever seen her. She was aware that accommodation was another issue that she would have to address. She was currently living with her mother and 14 month old child.

The father’s solicitor said that the judge had granted an Interim Care Order on the last occasion and had said that if there was clear evidence that the parents were not taking drugs then “it was clear what would happen” on next court date. The father’s solicitor said that the last urine screen had been clear of all drugs except cannabis and that although it was an illegal drug it did not warrant the child’s continuation in foster care.

The father’s solicitor said that he wanted the child returned to his care and he could not see why the foster placement was necessary. He said that he would continue to work with his GP and provide clear urine screens.

The judge said that an Interim Care Order had been granted for 29 days. He also said that it was true that screens in respect of cannabis would not be a huge factor but when there is an incentive to get the child back and there is a drugs issue with the father it may be relevant.

The judge said that the mother appeared to be making a valiant effort, and even though she had fallen off the wagon she appeared to have tried to get back on the rails and had been working very hard to do that. The judge granted the Interim Care Order for 29 days and said that if the mother could provide clear urine samples for 29 days it would strengthen her case. He said that he had not been aware that the mother was seeking the return of her children.

The judge said that he would not envisage the child being in care much longer if genuine attempts were made by the parents.

Relative appointed guardian of child

A District Court in a provincial city granted an application by a relative to be appointed guardian of her cousin’s daughter. When asked by the CFA solicitor whether she understood the implications of becoming a guardian the woman replied that she did, she was the child’s mother’s first cousin and that she had a very close relationship with the child. The judge said that he had no hesitation in granting the application as he considered it to be in the child’s best interests. This was one of a number of matters dealt one day with by a judge in a provincial city.

ICO for boy at risk of harming himself

In another case an Interim Care Order was granted in respect of a teenager who was at risk of harming himself. He had been taken into care on foot of an Emergency Care Order because he had been very unstable and abusive and threatening towards his mother. The social worker said that he had been quite unstable but had stabilised hugely since coming into care and that the CFA hoped to achieve a longer period of stabilisation.

The boy himself had said that he would like time to clear his head. He had been talking a lot about drugs and saying that he was under a lot of pressure from drug dealers. He was living in a residential centre and staff had said that the boy’s behaviour was extremely good. The court heard that the boy had expressed a desire to go back to education. The judge asked whether the boy was having access with his mother and was told that access was taking place once a week.

Passport handed over

A hearing date for a Care Order application was sought in another case where the CFA also requested that the mother hand over the passport of her child, who was living with foster parents under an Interim Care Order. An order had been made by the judge on a previous occasion directing the mother to hand over the passport to the CFA so that the foster parents could take the child on holidays but also because there were fears that the mother would abduct the child.

The mother did not have a solicitor but had applied for legal aid and was seeking a stay of the order to hand over the passport while she appealed the order to the Circuit Court. The mother said that she required details about the proposed holiday with the foster parents. The passport was then handed into court. The CFA solicitor said that since the passport had been handed into court, the fear about the child being abducted had been allayed. The mother said that she did not want the CFA to be in charge of the passport and the judge assured her that it would be kept in the court.

The mother agreed to undergo a full psychiatric assessment and consented to an Interim Care Order for four months. In relation to the application for the care order the judge said that it would probably be better if he did not hear that application as he had “formed a view of the mother” and he indicated that the mother spoke much better English than she said she did. The judge said he was glad that the mother had handed in the passport and that she was consenting to the Interim Care Order.