A regional court granted an application for a full care order to 18 years in respect of a baby girl who had been in care on a voluntary basis since her birth. The mother stopped engaging with the social work department a number of weeks before the case was heard, and despite numerous attempts to contact her, she did not attend at court and was not represented.
The social worker told the judge that she believed the mother had left the jurisdiction and she said that they had attended at her accommodation each week in order to transport her to and from access but the accommodation was completely locked up. The social worker attempted to call her and had sent text messages encouraging her to engage and she received no reply. At some point, the mother did request that photos of the baby be provided to the baby’s father.
The social worker said that the mother had three older children and they were each the subject of full care orders to the age of 18 years. She outlined to the court that the mother was informed that if she had another child, she would need significant supports. The social worker said that the mother did not engage and became uncontactable towards the end of her pregnancy and attended only six of her 26 anti-natal appointments.
The social worker believed that the mother was in a less favourable place now than she was when her third child was taken into care. She believed that the mother was homeless for periods of her pregnancy and was unable to avail of homeless supports due to anti-social behaviour. The social worker said that the mother required counselling and additional supports, including accommodation and welfare supports. The social work department also had concerns that the mother was using drugs during her pregnancy, however, she told the judge that the baby is thriving and there did not seem to be any negative repercussions.
The social worker was of the opinion that the mother was not able to put the needs of her children first and was not able to prioritise the safety of her children. She said that the mother did not adhere to medical advice regarding one of the older children and that child became very unwell as a result.
The social worker told the judge that there were concerns regarding the identified father. She said that he had indicated that he wanted to be involved, but had not come forward to the social work department.
The social worker said that the baby was doing well and had been placed with a half brother. She told the court that the placement had been identified as a long-term placement and there is natural contact with the other siblings, as the foster families get on very well.
The judge said that she had no questions for the social worker. There was no guardian ad litem or legal representative on behalf of either parent and in those circumstances the social worker was not cross examined and the judge granted the section 18 full care order to the age of 18 years.