A number of young people gave evidence during reviews of their cases on an afternoon when 19 matters were listed in a District Court in a provincial city. The judge made a point of speaking to any of the young people, in respect of whom there were Care Orders in place, who wanted to speak to him.
During one review the judge asked a young girl how things were going. The girl said that a lot had happened; things were sometimes better and sometimes worse. When the judge asked the girl to tell him about the worst thing that had happened, she replied that a few issues had come up that she had not spoken about previously but that she had told the right people and they were helping her. She also said that she had moved to a really nice foster home. The judge asked the girl further questions and then asked whether the girl would leave the court room so that the adults could discuss her case. The girl replied that she did not mind doing so as she was yet to be an adult.
During another review of a Care Order, the court was told that all was going well in a young girl’s placement and that she would turn 18 within the year. The court heard that the girl had met her after-care worker. When the judge asked the girl about school she said that she thought that her last school did not reflect her very well. She said that she was now in a new school and was getting on better.
The judge asked the girl whether she had ever spoken to a professional about how her mother had abandoned her. The girl replied that she had and “I can’t say it upsets me. I understand her logic in life.” The judge suggested that she speak to a particular social worker about her feelings in case she became upset.
During the course of another review of a Care Order the court heard that the foster parents a girl had been placed with had decided to stop acting as foster-carers. The solicitor for the CFA told the court that the girl was now with a new family but stayed in contact with the old family.
The court heard that teachers in the girl’s school were concerned about her mental health. There had been an emergency meeting and the girl was seeing a counsellor every two weeks and was happy with the service she was receiving. The mother apparently wished to take a step back from access. The court was told that the girl did not want to see her father but wanted phone contact with him. The court heard that the mother opposed an application made by the father for joint custody.
In another case, a Care Order was granted in respect of a boy for two years on consent. The judge commended the mother’s generosity in agreeing to the Care Order and acknowledging that she could not take care of the child at that time.
In another review of a Care Order the court heard that the boy in care had settled down. The mother’s solicitor, however, said that she was concerned about the lack of information that she was receiving. When the mother’s solicitor asked the judge about the possibility of extended access at Christmas time, the judge said that he discourages special access at Christmas time.
In a separate case a Care Order for five months was granted with the consent of the parents.
In another case a five month Care Order was granted where the mother told the court that she was embarking on a 12 week drug and alcohol treatment programme. The Judge asked the mother how she would reassure him that within a short time she would not be back on drugs. The mother assured the court that this would not occur and that she would keep in touch with her drugs counsellor. She said: “I know what mistake I’ve made, I’m not going to make it again. I’ll prove everyone wrong. I’ll do it for myself. “
In another case, a Care Order was granted on consent for one year where the parents had drug and alcohol dependencies and the mother also had mental health difficulties.