In a District Court of a provincial town four child care cases were heard at part of a list of 29 general family law cases and a bail hearing in a criminal matter.
In one of the cases, the court granted an application to extend an Interim Care Order in respect of three children, aged 15 years, 10 years and 8 years, on consent in successive hearings for a six month period. The application for a Full Care Order, which was being contested by the parents, was adjourned.
At a later hearing, the social worker provided an update on the children’s care. The Child in Care Reviews had been held the previous week and a meeting with the GAL had taken place. The foster care placement of the eldest child had broken down and he had been moved to a respite foster care placement. The child had expressed a wish to return to his foster carer placement, the hope was that the issue would be resolved and a support plan would be put in place for the foster carers. The child would stay in the respite placement for at least a further week. A monthly respite foster care placement may be included in his care plan.
This child was identified as being in need of psychological support. The social worker had identified a psychologist who had agreed to take on the work, however, she was no longer able to do it due to a change in her personal circumstances so another psychologist was being sourced. The social worker said the aim was to find someone local with the right kind of experience.
The solicitor on behalf of the GAL asked if another of the children had been referred to CAMHS for assessment. The social worker said that a referral had been made but she could not give a timeframe regarding how long it would be before the child was offered an appointment. The GAL’s solicitor asked whether the CFA would put in place a private arrangement if a CAMHS appointment was not offered in a timely manner. The social worker said she would need to discuss this with management.
In relation to the family generally, the social worker reported that the child’s father presented much better and was taking medication prescribed by a psychiatrist and was receiving support from a counsellor, the family had sourced employment and got a new car.
In another of the cases, an Interim Care Order (ICO) was extended on the consent of the mother in successive hearings over three months while a full Care Order application was adjourned.
The GAL supported the ICO extensions. The court heard that the child’s father lives in Africa but would be returning to Ireland shortly. The social worker would then meet with him and hoped that the matter would be resolved by agreement. The social worker noted that they usually meet with him during an access visit and he had been helpful to date.
The parties agreed to liaise to identify the number of witnesses to be called for the full Care Order hearing and to write to the court to indicate the number of days needed and to ask for a date to be set for the hearing and for a moveable judge to be assigned to hear it.
The judge commented that he had no indication as to when a special sitting would be arranged, saying it could be late in the year. The solicitor for the GAL noted that the child had expressed a wish to remain permanently where she was, was happy with access as it is and enjoyed sibling access. The Judge also lifted the in camera rule for the purpose of furnishing reports to the psychologist.