Traveller identity of young children to be addressed – 2014vol1#19

Work on the sense of identity of young Traveller children in care would have to be worked on with them, a court in a provincial city was told when their Care Order came up for review. The children, aged five and six and a half, had been in care since 2012 and had a very negative attitude towards Travellers.

The children’s older siblings were also in care, the court heard. Prior to coming into care the young children had witnessed a lot of violence on the halting site where they lived. “They need space to tell their story. We need to get advice on the best therapeutic support for them,” the social worker told the court.

The children had access with their mother but the social worker was not recommending access with the father, as the children were very fearful of him. “We need to seek advice around their Traveller identity,” the social worker said. “At the moment they see the Traveller community in a negative light. Their carer is very balanced in saying that not all Travellers are as they experienced them.”

The guardian ad litem told the court that the mother had a very positive relationship with the children. They had an older sibling who took her own life at 15. “It is a pleasure to meet these children,” she said. “They are kind and open. They are very vocal about their experiences before they came into care. A lot of their relatives are in prison. They talk about blood and fighting. They need a therapeutic environment where they can talk about it.”

The judge said she recognised advice had to be sought in relation to their identity. She said she would review the matter in six months, and the case could be re-entered if any change in their placement was being considered.