Review of Care Orders for children with attachment issues – 2015vol3#29

A Full Care Order review took place in the District Court in respect of two children with attachment issues.

Two years previously the Full Care Order had initially been granted by the judge for five months, pending the production of adequate care plans “to be filed in respect of each child, to allow the HSE to find the most child appropriate long-term placements for both children”.

During that hearing the court had heard the mother had a long-standing drug addiction and there were concerns around her drug use and the impact it was having on her care of the children. There was also a history of domestic violence from the father towards the mother which the children had witnessed.

Five months later the judge reviewed the care plans in respect of both children. The younger child (B) had settled into his residential placement, he was not presenting with behavioural issues and was interacting well with the other children. The social worker told the court that the department was looking for an appropriate step-down foster placement to follow on from the residential unit.

However an appropriate long-term placement was still being sought for Child A. The guardian ad litem (GAL) told the court there were “huge concerns as to where [A] will end up”.

The judge found the care plan for B to be “good and positive, it is possible to extend the care order till his 18th birthday.” Regarding the care plan for A, the judge said that “nobody is very satisfied with it, including the GAL or the social worker.” She extended the care order for three months only.

Three months later the GAL told the court she was now supporting A’s care plan, she was currently placed in a residential unit, “she is very happy to be back, as she would say, with people who speak the same way as she does. It’s very early days in terms of therapeutic input.” The unit were working on the basis that A needed to regress to being a child and not being in control all the time. The next two years would be spent stabilising her behaviour to enable her to function.

The GAL did not know if A’s mother had the ability to have a mother-daughter relationship, the maternal grandmother was the stabilising factor in that relationship, A’s mother was now living back at home.

After hearing from the GAL as to her level of satisfaction regarding the placement, the judge extended the Care Order until A’s 18th birthday, with an aftercare review to take place on her 15th birthday, “due to her particular needs. If the placement looks a bit shaky the GAL should be reappointed forthwith.”

Sixteen months later, at a care review, the court heard that no follow-on placement had been identified for B. Initially he had been placed there for 12 months. “This time last year it was extended again”, said the GAL, “now he doesn’t know where he is going. The major issue is that the placement is ending, he is at the upper end of the age profile for [his placement]”, and it was due to end in three weeks.

“Technically speaking he might have to go into a short-term emergency placement,” said the GAL, due to licensing difficulties regarding age placement in his unit.

“[B] has made remarkable progress in the last two years,” the GAL told the court, “he is a kind, considerate, remarkable little boy. It is hanging over him where he is going next, he has serious and significant attachment difficulties.”

The court also heard that A was now in a mainstream unit where a considerable settling-in period had been required. However she was currently doing well, attending school and getting on well with staff members and school peers. The GAL told the court that she had seen an enormous change in A, who was now more confident and more articulate.

A meeting had taken place about Child A’s care options and it was felt that it would be better for her to stay in residential care due to her attachment problems, said the CFA solicitor. Her present unit had been identified as her long term placement.

The children’s mother, who attended the care review, told the court: “I’m actually detoxing at the moment. I will be coming back to fight for [A], she needs her mother, she can’t accept where she is, she never will, she wants to be home. She’s at that age you need your mother, it’s a bad time. I’m detoxing and all that. I will be coming back to court, probably next year to fight for [A] back.”

The review was left before the court and would also come back in for mention with regard to B’s placement ending and where he would go.

See Case Histories 2013, Vol 2, No.32