A child in care was reunified with his mother in a provincial town after over two years in care. The mother had a history of alcohol misuse and had completed addiction treatment. However, there was a concern from the GAL that the mother was not cooperating with the CFA and that some form of supervision was needed.
The child had been in voluntary care since 2016. The interim care order was granted in 2018 and phased reunification took place from May 2019, when the mother had completed a course in an alcohol treatment centre. The progress report was positive as the mother was continuing to engage with the supports available to her. The social worker said a support network had been established with the mother and a further order was not needed.
The solicitor for the GAL said a supervision order would help the child to understand why he was taken into care and to know that he was safe. She said: “Your [the social worker’s] report concerns me about the Signs of Safety plan. It was envisaged that a family support worker would be in [the house]. The mother said that was not needed as the child was in his grandmother’s house.”
The social worker said: “The mother expressed dismay about the family support worker as some of the family disengaged with the work. We did review the case and [the mother] had frustrated the assessment.”
The mother moved the child from his former school and did not tell anyone. The social workers were concerned that the child was settled. The new school advised that there were safety regulations in place and the child could address his concerns with the teacher. The school was aware that they had to remain vigilant in reporting any concerns to the CFA. The social worker said: “The mother was more preoccupied with fighting with the CFA and she wanted to close the door on the child’s time in care.”
The child had engaged in life story work with a psychologist. The mother had concerns that the psychologist did not have the competencies to complete the work with the child and the work was abandoned. The mother preferred the alcohol treatment centre to complete the life story work.
The solicitor for the GAL asked: “The mother did not want the child to be told the life story work?”
The social worker said: “The child was not prioritised. The mother has given explanations and it was not comprehensive and that is why a further explanation was needed. When the CFA approached the house to see the child, he would smile but now there is a difference. He [the child] is concerned and worried that he has to provide answers and those [answers] come from his mother.”
The judge asked: “What services were offered to the mother?”
The social worker said: “The mother met with an excellent service but had a fraught relationship with the CFA.”
The GAL was concerned that the child was apprehensive when talking to professionals. The GAL said: “It was agreed the grandmother and the mother’s brother would stay involved when the mother was in the alcohol treatment centre so that he [the child] could see his cousins. I am concerned about the mental welfare of the child. When he was in care, he was happy but that is refuted by his care-takers. There was a problem with the foster carers, the grandmother and the mother. The child gives the impression that he is not allowed talk about it [the problems].”
The solicitor for the GAL said we need something [to ensure] that the mother will cooperate with the professionals, that she will go to the school and ask for help.
The judge asked: “Who can she [the mother] go to if she has problems.”
The GAL said the mother could go to the social worker.
The judge said: “But she has problems with the social workers already.”
The solicitor for the mother said the school was “keeping an eye on” the situation and the teacher and principal would be vigilant. The solicitor for the GAL said they could not force the CFA to apply for a supervision order.
The GAL was discharged.