Supervision orders were granted in a provincial town in respect of three children, two of school going age and a baby. The parents were not present in court and they had not engaged. The children had not attended school in a number of months.
The social worker for the Child and Family Agency (CFA) told the court she had conducted two home visits since September and only achieved one successful announced home visit when she met the children in the home. She conducted an unannounced home visit at the side of the house with the father and one of the children.
The social workers asked the Gardaí to carry out a welfare check. When the Gardaí called to the house, a man appeared at the upstairs window and accused the Gardaí of interfering. Neighbours also reported seeing the family in the vicinity. The social worker wrote twice to the parents advising them that the CFA would apply for a supervision order if the social workers could not get access to the home. The children had not returned to school since the summer holidays.
The judge asked: “If the children were attending [school] and then failed to attend since summer, is it the duty of the school to notify the Gardaí?”
The social worker said the school notified the welfare officer.
The solicitor for the CFA asked: “The father confirmed that the boys would not be returning to school?”
The social worker said the father said to one school that the family was leaving Ireland and told the other child’s school that the family was moving to another town.
The supervision order was granted and reviewed a week later. The social work team leader spoke to the parents. Her concerns about the children remained but she noted a shift in the attitudes of the parents. The supervision order was to be reviewed again in a month.
Supervision order following unexplained head injury
In another case in the same court a review of a supervision order granted for six months in respect of one child was heard. The child had come into care on foot of an emergency care order following an unexplained head injury. The child sustained a fractured skull and a Garda investigation was ongoing into the cause of the child’s injuries. The Gardaí invoked their power under section 12 of the Child Care Act,1991 following an incident in a pub. The parents gave different accounts regarding the child’s injuries and it was unclear what caused the injuries but they were significant.
The solicitor for the CFA said the child was doing well. She was back with her mother and extended family. The social workers continued to monitor the mother’s progress. There were no concerns until the previous week when the mother left the family home for a number of days due to stress. The child was in the care of her maternal grandmother.
The judge asked: “Are there concerns about the temporary placement?”
The solicitor for the CFA said the mother was finding it hard being at home with the family and needed support. There were concerns she had contact with the father and that was part of the safety plan. An updated psychological assessment had been received and it was followed up by a forensic assessment.
The solicitor for the GAL said there were other concerns in the psychologist’s report and there would be a further consideration of mother’s understanding the child’s needs.
The solicitor for the mother said the mother was struggling to strike a balance and was feeling smothered at home. The supervision order was to be reviewed in two months.
When the case came back to court an interim care order was granted with the consent of the mother. The CFA solicitor told the court the mother was finding it hard being at home with the family and there were concerns she had contact with the father.
The solicitor said there was cause for an interim care order and there was consent to the application. A welfare report was sought for the child. The child would remain with the maternal grandmother and the grandmother would be assessed as a relative foster carer. The judge asked about the concerns of guardian ad litem (GAL).
The solicitor for the GAL said the concerns had been satisfied and the residual part of the supervision order should be discharged.
The interim care order was made for a period of 28 days.
Extension of interim care order
An interim care order was extended for one child in the same court. The mother was in treatment and did not engage. The father was represented and consented to the application.
The child was of pre-school age and had spent most of her life in care. The guardian ad litem (GAL) recommended a child in care review to assess reunification.
The judge asked: “What is the status of the mother in the absence of instructions?”
The solicitor for the GAL said the mother went into treatment and was expecting another baby. The mother had been in touch with the social worker. A meeting had taken place the previous month and a care plan had been developed that could be circulated.
The father completed his interviews for the parenting capacity assessment but the assessment piece was yet to be completed. The mother needed to meet with the social workers when she was finished in the treatment facility. The interim care order was extended.