Three reviews of care orders were among seven child care cases heard in a provincial city on a specified child care day.
The first case was a review of a full care order for a primary school age girl who had been in care since birth. The social worker informed the judge that the child suffered from severe anxiety and outlined the steps being taken to obtain play therapy for the child and her brother. The solicitor for the mother sought a psychological assessment for the young girl.
The social worker was of the opinion that play therapy should be conducted prior to an assessment as he believed that play therapy could resolve the young girl’s anxiety. The social worker said that the play therapy should be under way prior to Christmas. The judge ordered that the care order be reviewed in 12 months and granted the solicitor for the mother liberty to re-enter the matter if the play therapy had not commenced by Christmas.
The second case was a review of a full care order of a young girl who had been in care under a full care order since March. The young girl had regular unsupervised access with her father and her paternal grandfather and the father was undertaking a “parenting under pressure” programme.
The main issue was access with the young girl’s mother, which had ceased because an independent access supervisor was required. This was because of ongoing difficulties between the mother and the current social worker. The mother had been in care as a child and the social worker acknowledged that this was the reason for her mistrust of social workers. The solicitor for the mother sought a review in three months in order to ensure that supervised access was taking place and the Child and Family Agency agreed that this was the appropriate course of action. A review would take place shortly after Christmas.
The final review was a short review in circumstances where neither parent was represented in court. The young child had been in care from shortly after his birth. He had a diagnosis of autism and while he was currently in mainstream education, he was in a class with five students and has a special needs assistant.
The social worker gave evidence that the young boy is doing very well and receiving blocks of occupational and speech and language therapy. The social worker said that he was a very happy and pleasant boy and is very well cared for by his foster parents. The Child and Family Agency suggested that the care order be reviewed in 12 months’ time due to the fact that the young boy is a child with special needs in care.
The Child and Family Agency made an application to extend a care order for three months in respect of two young boys in order to facilitate the reunification of two boys with their mother. The boys had been in care since 2016 and were placed with their grandmother. The application had been before the court two weeks previously, but the solicitor for the mother was not satisfied that a clear reunification plan had been put before the court and the application had been adjourned to that day’s date for the purpose of preparing an updated plan.
The solicitor for the mother told the court that the mother was reluctantly consenting to order and that this was the last occasion where she would be giving her consent to the care order being in place. The solicitor for the Child and Family Agency expressed concern about the issues regarding domestic violence between the mother and her partner. The solicitor for the mother requested that any risk assessment be conducted before Christmas. The care order was extended for three months, with a review in two months to ensure progress was being made.
The final application was an extension of a full care order for one year in respect of a young girl who was placed with a relative. There was no attendance by the child’s mother or father and evidence was given that both parents were under the influence of drugs, despite several attempts to rehabilitate. The social worker was of the opinion that the care order should be extended for one year on this occasion and thereafter, if the parents are not in a position to care for the young girl, an application for a full care order to 18 years should be made.
The young girl was happy and settled with her relatives and had access with her father. The social worker was hoping that a more structured access programme could be arranged with the mother, however, he said that she hadn’t engaged in the last number of months. The judge was satisfied that threshold had been met and extended the care order for 12 months.