Review of care order where therapeutic interventions under way- 2022vol2#47

The Dublin District Court carried out a review in relation to a full care order which had been made for three children. The mother was commended for her progress to date.

The solicitor for the Child and Family Agency (CFA) said the matter was before the court to see how the children were getting on since the care orders had been granted. The court heard that progress had been made in relation to the directions attached to the care orders, and a number of therapeutic interventions had been put in place for the children.

The allocated social worker gave evidence that Child A was currently engaging with a specialist therapeutic support service. She said funding had recently been approved for a review with a neuropsychologist, but the assessment could not start for a year. She said in the interim the CFA would be guided by the recommendations of the therapeutic support service in relation to A’s ongoing needs.

It was noted that all three children had recently moved to a new school and were doing well there. The social worker said Child B required assessment by a clinical psychologist who would look at what her current needs were. She said life story work needed to be completed in respect of all three children, but that this was an “ongoing piece of work.”

The witness said the CFA was “committed to providing the best service possible” to the children. She said: “everything that can be done is being done.”

The court heard there was some confusion over a particular piece of work for the mother. The witness said the mother had been attending sessions with a clinical psychologist, who had subsequently indicated that he wanted to carry out further work with her.

Witness: “The problem is the lack of clarity as to what work is required… We asked to have a meeting with him but he was reluctant to do that… I have spoken to [the mother] about this and we are both on the same page that there is a lack of clarity about what it is he wants to look at.”

The witness agreed that the mother had come a long way in terms of her own progress and had engaged with the supports offered to her.

The judge queried whether the mother wanted to engage further with the particular psychologist, or whether there was any need to do so.

The mother’s solicitor said that her client would do what was asked of her, but had “no idea” what exactly the expert was offering. The solicitor suggested the review should not be finalised until clarification was provided.

Judge: “But she [the mother] needs to make the decision herself at this point…”

Witness: “There is a huge vagueness in what he is offering. There is confusion as he doesn’t provide long-term work… It all seems very vague and unclear… He backtracked on what he was saying initially, he called it pre-therapy, but ethically it is too vague and I wouldn’t even know myself how to describe it…”

The mother told the court she wanted to adjourn the review because of the conversation she had with the social worker about establishing why she needed to go back to the psychologist. She said she had been offered a six-month piece of work, but without any description of what it entailed.

Judge: “Do you think you need therapy?”

Mother: “I don’t know.”

Judge: “Can you discuss things with your GP?”

Mother: “Yes, but the CFA think I need it…”

Judge: “Well forget about them, it’s your life… If you don’t think you need it and you can go to your GP then I’m not sure why this is a discussion…”

The guardian ad litem (GAL) gave evidence that all three children were doing very well in their placement. She noted that funding had been approved for A, which was a significant development. She said she was due to be released, but asked the court to consider her re-appointment when the assessment with the neuropsychologist was ready to take place.

Judge: “Was this set out in the original care order?”

GAL solicitor: “There were differing views as to [A] and the need for intervention at the time the order was made, but now everyone is in agreement that the GAL should remain involved.”

The GAL said she had spoken with the mother and she was unsure about whether she needed further intervention as she was making very good progress. The GAL said the mother was attending every access and was “striving to make positive changes in her own life.”

She said it had been a “very long road” for the children to date, and they had a strong awareness of the court process. They understood a decision had been made in relation to their care, which their mother was in support of, so there was a “sense of stability” for them now.

The mother’s solicitor said the mother was eager to have the GAL stay on board until A’s assessment had been carried out. The GAL said she was certain the CFA could manage the intervening pieces without her, but reiterated her desire to be re-appointed in due course.

Having heard the evidence, the judge said the mother was moving on positively with her life and it was clear she was “fulfilling the role of a mother” by supporting her children.

She said: “This is a good news story and whether [the mother] needs further intervention is a matter for herself.” She said the clinical psychologist had “no right” to suggest the mother required further therapy when it was clear she was doing very well and so were her children.

The judge confirmed she would finalise the review that day and formally discharge the GAL. She noted the agreement that the GAL would be re-appointed for the sole purpose of finalising the psychological report for A.