Supervision order reviewed where children not attending school – 2021vol1#52

A review of a supervision order was heard in a provincial town in respect of three children, two of school going age and a baby. The parents were from a European country and did not engage. The children had not attended school in a number of months. The Child and Family Agency (CFA) was considering an application for an interim care order.

The solicitor for the CFA described the parents as “serial non-engagers.” The social worker tried many ways to engage with the family. There was an unassessed risk and the risk was not clear. A number of concerns were reported by members of the public and the Gardaí had been called to the home.

The solicitor for the CFA said the CFA was considering a lot of options, such as to prosecute the parents for noncompliance with the supervision order. She said: “It appears that there has never been a prosecution for noncompliance with supervision order. That will be the route the CFA take.”

The judge asked: “[To] what extent is it [the supervision order] implemented? Are the children left in limbo?”

The solicitor replied: “The public health nurse has been allowed to visit [the home] due to concerns [relating to] the 10-month-old child. The children were healthy and well.”

The social worker set out an appendix of the attempts to interact with family. In the recent past a text communication had been received but the previous week there had been no engagement. The social worker had contacted the mother’s mother and that had prompted further engagement from the mother. The mother had said she would engage in two weeks’ time. The social worker called to the family home and saw the children in a park looking well.

The judge asked: “Is there an ongoing risk to the children? That is the issue in the court’s mind. It seems communication is a one-way street.”

The solicitor said the application relation to the interim care order was to adjourn for four weeks as the social worker would set out an analysis as to why the application for the interim care order would be disproportionate at the present time as The children would have to be brought into care on foot of section 12 of the Child Care Act, 1991. There was a team liaising with the fostering team, there was no placement for three children and bringing the children into care would mean they would be separated. An interim care order was viewed as a drastic step and the social workers wanted to exhaust every avenue and continue with the supervision order.

The solicitor for the CFA said: “In recent weeks the social workers got information from the public health nurse allaying their concerns. On Easter Sunday the mother was observed in a park intoxicated [with her youngest child in her care]. The Gardaí were alerted.  The father provided his telephone number to the Gardaí. The Gardaí did not invoke section 12 but the mother was charged with a public order offence. The [youngest] child was given to the father.”

The judge said: “There is a certain risk [to the children].” The supervision order was listed for review in one month.