Supervision Order granted where young child had effectively missed two years school – 2024vol1#3

The Child and Family Agency (CFA) sought a supervision order for a young child on the basis of educational neglect. The CFA solicitor said essentially the child had missed two academic years of education, she had not attended school in any significant way, which had had a knock-on effect on the child’s socialisation and progress.

The mother’s solicitor was seeking an adjournment as she said, based on the mother’s presentation, she believed she needed an advocate. The CFA solicitor was loathe to adjourn the matter given the fact that the child had already missed a significant amount of education and he did not want it put back to another school term. The mother’s solicitor said she wanted to take meaningful instructions from her client.

The court appointed an advocate from Barnardos to the mother based on the solicitor’s section 47 application. The solicitor for the mother explained that her client’s husband had committed suicide and the mother had had health issues requiring a number of operations. The mother had made a home-schooling application to the Department of Education.

The mother and her daughter were living in a rural area in a mobile home, which was damp and wet. The daughter had also undergone an operation and had received physiotherapy to help in her recovery. The mother needed bereavement counselling and was also suffering from post-traumatic stress.

The judge agreed to adjourn the matter for two weeks to allow the advocate to support the mother and for the mother to talk with her solicitor.

The judge encouraged the mother to work with the social work team with a view to getting the child back to school. The mother was of the view that the system had let her down.

The supervision order was granted two weeks later.

When the case came back before the court it was some 10 days after a supervision order had been granted. The CFA and the mother’s solicitor had returned to court to provide an update on the scaffolding that was to be put in place to support the educational attendance. A transport service was being provided whereby the child and the mother would be picked up by a taxi Monday to Friday and the child brought to school. A support worker would attend twice a week and assist with transport. In addition, a home visit was scheduled for a Friday. An agency had been contacted with a view to providing family support and that was being followed up on.

The judge noted that a guardian ad litem (GAL) had been appointed when the supervision order had been made and that there was to be a further review in four weeks’ time. The GAL was to liaise with the family and a full update was to be provided by the GAL and the access worker on the next court date.

The case was listed for review in a month’s time.