Short term care order extended for two months – 2019vol2#37

The judge in a rural District Court heard a Child and Family Agency (CFA) application for dates for a full care order hearing regarding two primary school age children. She extended a short-term care order for two months to allow a newly appointed guardian ad litem (GAL) an opportunity to engage with the brothers, A and B.

The court heard there had been a parental assessment completed some time ago and it was the CFA’s intention for the children to stay with their foster families and the CFA confirmed both foster families were committed to the children.

Judge: “It may be the case that what has been done has been done and unfortunately the parents are not engaging and have their own issues.”

When asked by the judge about her view on the full care order application, the social worker told the court the threshold had been met for the full care order application. She said: “The mother is not in a position to look after the children. She is staying in a caravan at her parents’ home. Attendance at access would lead me to believe she is not in a good place. My view is she is not in a position and that the father is also not in a position [to look after the children], and has not engaged in any assessment.”

The mother’s solicitor told the court that she was unable to get instructions from her client. “The mother’s engagement was sparse and engagement with the CFA was equally sparse,” she said. She had been written to and the solicitor had tried to contact her. The court heard the mother called the Legal Aid Board to say she was unwell and not able to attend court. The social worker told the court that she had a good relationship and rapport with the mother. “She trusts me insofar as she can trust social workers and I haven’t discussed a full care order hearing until [I have] the dates,” she said.

The CFA confirmed that both parents had been served notice with the application and there had been inconsistent attendance at access. There had been weekly access provided, but the mother had not engaged with this. It was in the best interest of the children to suspend access and to speak to the mother, “Unfortunately, access had been suspended as the children had been feeling let down,” the social worker told the court. There had been no contact with the father despite efforts and the father is aware that they are trying to make contact, the social worker told the court.

A’s foster placement broke down recently and he moved to another foster placement. The court heard he was making good progress. B was unsettled when his brother’s placement broke down but was delighted to hear his brother was living on a farm, the court heard. The brothers had weekly access, the social worker told the court.

The brothers were receiving therapeutic intervention and a psychotherapist was to complete a psycho-education piece with the foster carers 6-8 weeks after A started his new placement, the social worker said. Garda specialist interviews regarding abuse allegations were on hold until A was more settled. “[This] was on our radar,” the social worker said.

The GAL’s solicitor referred to a difficulty in obtaining written reports and the CFA solicitor said there was a data protection issue. The order now provides that on the appointment of a GAL all reports would be made available to the GAL, the judge said.

Mother consents to extension of interim care order, indicates consent to her mother caring for children

In a separate case, the judge extended an interim care order for three months on consent and gave dates for the hearing of a full care order application for two young children who had been in care for three years.  The father was in prison and there had been plans for reunification with the mother, but the mother’s situation had gone downhill, the court heard.

The mother’s solicitor said: “The position up to last year was the case was going well regarding reunification and the mother was meeting all the milestones with the CFA. Unfortunately, due to the tragic death of a young relative things started to go downhill, [she] started to self-harm and set the situation way back.

“Her instructions [are] she hopes the CFA going forward would consider her mother as a possible carer and she realises there would have to be a CFA assessment, and [she is] asking for a consideration as to that possibility. She realises she is not in a position to have the children home. She is looking after her other child. [It has] been tough, a difficult time and she knows she has taken steps back.”

Judge: “Is it the case that at this point in time she is not in a position and accepts the reality?”

The court heard the mother was consenting to a care order until 18 years with a review in two years and she felt it better for her mother to step in and take her place.