An Interim Care Order order was granted for two children, but the judge stated that the children were to move back in with the mother in six weeks’ time. The father had been deported from Ireland and the mother had not been in Ireland for some time. The parents had recently returned and the mother wanted to take the children back into her care.
The court heard that the children were settled in their foster homes and had good relationships with their foster families. The solicitor for the CFA told the court that it would be a shock to the system to be returned to the mother’s care very suddenly and that the children needed to be prepared for the return. The court heard that the mother had been living in an apartment without paying rent and had recently moved house.
A social worker gave evidence that one of the children had said that if they were going back to live with mother the other child would be afraid of daddy. The mother denied this. The court heard that the mother had been asked to do a parenting course and that she had declined to do the parenting course the previous week as she felt the children were coming back. The mother replied that she had done an eight-week parenting course.
The mother’s solicitor told the court that she was worried that a school placement for the children might fall through. The social worker replied that she did not think that this would be a cause for concern. The mother said that she wanted to have the children back in her care. When the CFA solicitor asked her whether she thought it was fair to have left her children alone in this country for two years, the mother replied that it was not fair but she would not make that mistake again.
When the CFA solicitor asked the mother whether she accepted that the children had to say good-bye to the friends and the family they have known the mother replied that one day was enough to say goodbye.
In making the order the judge stated that the matter had to be re-listed unless the school place for the children had been confirmed and that the children were to move back in with the mother in six weeks’ time.
This case was one of 16 matters listed in one afternoon in a District Court in a provincial city. Others included reviews of teenage children in care as well as applications for Care Orders and Interim Care Orders.
In one case the CFA was granted a direction under section 47 of the Child Care Act 1991 so that the foster parents could christen a child in their care. The mother in the case, who was unrepresented and who was a drug addict, asked what a section 47 order was and the judge explained that it is a direction from the court on any matter affecting the welfare of the child. The order was granted and the matter was re-listed for the following year.
Separately the court heard a review of a care order of a 17 year-old boy. The boy was present in court and the judge asked him whether there was anything he needed help with at school and he said he was getting assistance in certain subjects. The judge noted that the boy’s grandmother had died and asked him did he miss her, to which he replied that he did. The judge said that said that if it was causing him problems he could talk to someone. The judge relisted the matter for the following month to see the boy again before he turned 18.
An Interim Care Order was made for a baby for 19 days and the court approved a close relative of the child as the foster carer. The court heard that the mother had mental health difficulties. The court was told that the boy’s relative was happy to take care of him. However, the judge expressed concern about the relative’s criminal record. The relative’s wife told the judge that she would be there to support him taking care of the child.
An application for a Supervision Order was adjourned for one month in another case where a concern was raised that the mother of the child did not understand the nature of the in camera rule. The mother took the stand and an interpreter relayed to her the judge’s explanation of the in camera rule. The judge asked her what would happen if she broke the rule and she replied that she would face criminal proceedings. The judge corrected her and said that she would not just face criminal proceedings but that she would go to prison. A GAL was appointed on consent.
A Care Order was granted for one year for a young child whose mother had problems with alcohol dependency and depression. The child was living with her grandmother.
A review was heard of the situation of three children who had been in care for three years. The court was told that the father was not in a position to involve himself in their lives. The matter was re-listed for the following year.
In another review of a Care Order the court heard that access with the parents was taking place once a month and that there was no difficulty with that. The matter was listed for six weeks later and the judge said that he expected a fostering link worker to be present on that occasion. The judge said that he wanted to hear progress on meetings that were taking place and that he would be interested in the views of one of the children.
A Care Order until 18 was granted in respect of a child whose father had been in prison and whose mother had problems with alcohol addiction. The CFA solicitor told the court that there had been a number of short orders made over the last number of years and that a (long term) decision had to be made now.
The court was told that fostering assessment was in progress and there would be an update for the court on the next occasion. The court also heard that there had been issues with the grandparents in the past but that they were providing a loving home now.
The solicitor for the mother said that she was consenting to the order on condition that the child remained with the grandparents. The court was told that the mother accepted that the court had given her an opportunity to improve and that she had improved in some respects in that she had reduced her drinking. The mother’s solicitor said that she did not want it understood that she was giving up. She was going to use the time to resolve her issues and was cognisant of the possibility of applying for a discharge of the care order.
The court also heard that the mother had some concerns about the involvement of the father of the child. He was residing with his mother and had access with the child every second weekend with his own mother. The child’s mother had concerns and wished for the access to remain supervised. The judge said that he would need to see the situation over a period of time and, if he felt that the father was progressing well, he would have to consider making the access unsupervised.
The judge told the mother that it was a brave position to take the course that she had taken and praised her generous decision to let the status quo to continue and also noted that it takes maturity and intelligence to see the situation for what it was. The judge noted that the mother was consenting on the basis that the child remained with her parents and she hoped to remain involved and to apply to discharge the order. The court heard that the child’s two grandmothers had a good working relationship and could prioritise the child’s welfare over other issues.
Another review took place of an Interim Care Order which had been ordered because the mother of a baby had serious mental health difficulties. The baby was in the care of his grandmother. The court heard that the child was becoming more settled and a report was cited that said that the mother was very competent with the baby’s care needs.
The judge asked the mother how things went when she was with the baby during the day. The mother replied that things were great; that the baby cried when he needed a bottle or when he had wind.
The mother asked the judge could she be permitted to sleep in her own mother’s house with her baby. The judge asked: “If things are going well why would you rock the boat?” The mother replied: “Because I am his mother. I feel that he is missing my voice.” The judge said that if things were going well he would be slow to change them. The mother said that she was anxious to get home.
The grandmother gave evidence to the court of the situation in her home and asked the court could the mother be permitted to stay with the baby until a later time in the evening so that she could give her baby another feed. The judge expressed his reluctance and said that it might be unsettling for the baby. The judge said that the mother was building up a track record of stability which was very important.