Three Dublin cases focus on aftercare, lack of placements and reunification – 2017vol1#13

The Dublin District Court heard a case involving a review of a child in care who is would turn 18 in six months at which point the Care Order would expire. The boy was described as appearing “settled in school because he is in a good place”. The judge expressed his dissatisfaction with the Child and Family Agency (CFA) as they appeared in court for the aftercare review hearing but had not assigned an allocated aftercare worker to the child. He was not happy to accept that the aftercare worker would be named at some point in the future.

The judge let the matter stand to allow the CFA to address this issue. The CFA returned to court that afternoon and provided the judge with a named allocated worker. During this hearing the judge also criticised the CFA’s draft aftercare plan for the child as it did not follow the CFA template which he said had been published a number of years ago and ensured that all information was in one place.

Another case in for mention on the same day concerned a boy who was currently detained in a children’s detention unit. The court heard the CFA was in negotiations to secure an appropriate placement for the boy on his release. It was felt that a single occupancy unit would be the best option for him if this could be sourced.

The solicitor on behalf of the child’s mother said she would seek to discharge the Care Order under a section 22 application if the placement found was not appropriate for her son. The judge asked the CFA what contingency they had in place if the planned strike at the Oberstown centre went ahead and the boy was consequently given early release. The CFA replied that they would return to court if he was released earlier than expected.

Finally, a third case was in for review in which the Care Order for a child was due to expire in two months’ time. The parents were present in court. The court was informed that a reunification proposal with the child’s parents was under consideration. The CFA had agreed to draw up a reunification plan on how this could happen and to set out what supports would be put in place.

It was noted that the father was having difficulties in accessing legal aid through his local office as he had a previous legal aid certificate. The CFA committed to support the father to secure legal aid given that the proceedings represented a special set of circumstances and not an ordinary application. The court was informed that there was a possibility that the foster carers might take steps to object to the reunification. A strategy meeting was due to take place in the coming days and a family meeting was scheduled within the next month.

The solicitor for the guardian ad litem (GAL) court informed the court that the GAL was concerned about the dynamics of the family relationship and anxious that the transition would happen in the most successful way. The judge noted that there was no order before court for him to rule on. He remarked that it was a “considerable regret” that under the Child Care Act 1991 there were no provisions in relation to transition arrangements. The case was adjourned for six weeks.