Eight interim care orders were extended in a district court in a provincial town, which formed part of a much longer family law list heard that day. In all the cases the interim care orders were extended on consent, and in some there was no evidence given.
In one case where evidence was heard the social worker told the court that the teenage girl whose parents lived abroad had been in relative care for the last two and a half years and was happy and progressing well. The parents were aware of proceedings but were not participating. The parents were supportive of their daughter staying with her relatives. During a CFA assessment for relative fostering, it had come to light that the uncle had not disclosed a previous criminal conviction for theft and money laundering twenty-five years earlier while living in his country of origin.
The social worker told the court that the CFA fostering committee had recommended the assessment should not continue, but the social worker team felt the needs of the child were best served by staying with her family. The GAL said the child wanted to stay in her placement. “This was the first time she felt cared for in her life,” she said. The child was in contact with her mother through Facebook but unsure as to whether she was ready to see her mother in person.
“There is a lot to be ironed out,” the judge said, granting the extension and adjourning the care order proceedings.
In another case an extension of an interim care order was granted and section 47 direction was given dispensing with the parent’s consent to the global assessment of the four children by a private organisation. There were two witnesses, a social worker and a GAL.
The parents were legally represented, but not in court. The social worker told the court the four children under six years old were in foster care. The oldest child had recently moved to another foster placement in the same location as her siblings and they had frequent contact three to five times weekly. There had been no contact from the parents since the last date and it was understood they had moved from their previous address. The children had a baby sibling since they went into care.
The court heard that the older two children had made further allegations of child sexual abuse and there had been a coroner’s inquest into a deceased child in the family. The father’s solicitor said his client was fully co-operating with the Garda investigation.
The social worker said the children needed a global assessment of their complex needs which would bring all the professionals dealing with the children under one umbrella. There had been a decision not to introduce the children to their baby sibling for the moment, but to introduce pictures before the next step of seeing the baby.
The GAL was satisfied the children were doing well and recommended play therapy and inter sibling contact. She was supportive of the global assessment.