Review of child in care who had seven foster placements in two and a half years – 2022vol1#43

The District Court in a rural town adjourned the review of the care of a boy who was the subject of a full care order. There had been a significant history of allegations of violence against the boy by the grandmother and sexual abuse by family members and friends. The child had had seven foster placements in the last two and half years. The boy’s mother had died, no other relatives were in court and there was no representation on their behalf.

The social worker said the boy was in an emergency placement where he was settled. A psychological assessment was in the process of being completed. It had been agreed that this current placement was not meeting his needs and he required residential care within a specialised unit. A specialised unit had been identified but they did not have a vacancy. The social worker had to submit referrals to this specialist unit with the completed psychological report.

He confirmed the CFA were committed to funding a place within this specialised unit. He was asked how long it would be before the boy could be admitted to this unit and replied that he hoped it would be within the next three months but added this was optimistic. He recognised the boy’s need for security and for a settled placement and stated the CFA were doing all they could to secure an appropriate placement for him.

The boy had been refusing school and the social worker said that all rewards and incentives had been tried but these had no lasting effect. However, the boy was attending an afterschool club from 1pm to 4pm each weekday.

The guardian ad litem (GAL) told the court the boy had a very sad and complex history with allegation of significant sexual and physical abuse and then by default emotional abuse and neglect. The boy had complex behaviour. She said that all placements had broken down because of his behaviour. These breakdowns exacerbated the behaviour and it had become a vicious cycle.

She said she was worried about the boy because he had made further disclosures of abuse and had started to withdraw. She said it was common for children who had made disclosures to withdraw because they felt guilty for it and the trouble it might cause.

The judge said the GAL had, in her report, helpfully listed the pressing issues that needed to be addressed for this child. These issues were his placement, education and psychological assessment and each were important. She said a placement must be found so that therapeutic work could be started to help this child address the many issues that he had. She said there would be very challenging years ahead if this child did not have certainty over where he would be and who he would be with. She adjourned the matter for three months.