HSE and CFA discuss how to respond to needs of non-verbal girl in care soon to turn 18

A judge refused to release the Health Service Executive from a witness summons in a review of a non-verbal and very vulnerable teenage girl who had been the subject of a care order for 12 years. He said he would not second guess the concerns of the guardian ad litem.

This matter concerned a review of the situation of the girl who would turn 18 in three months. Present in court for this review were the social worker and counsel for the Child and Family Agency (CFA), the guardian ad litem (GAL) and her counsel, and a representative from the Health Service Executive (HSE) who also had legal representation.

Counsel for the GAL told the court this matter had been before the court on two previous occasions and a care plan for this girl had still not been advanced. He said there had been no aftercare plan even though the girl was nearly 18. A psychiatric assessment had not been completed. This assessment was necessary as it would determine if the girl had capacity or if an application to make the girl a ward of court could to be made. The GAL had such concerns that nothing had been prepared for this girl she had instructed her solicitor to issue a witness summons to the HSE to ascertain what action had been taken to secure the girl’s future.

Counsel for the CFA said that the psychiatric assessment had been completed and that report would be available within five working days. That report would determine and direct the aftercare planning. There had been discussions and meetings between the CFA and the HSE, but nothing had been finalised. Funding for the girl’s care had not been agreed. He said that the CFA and HSE had in principle agreed the care of the girl but acknowledged that nothing had been formalised or finalised. A meeting had been arranged for after the release of the psychiatric assessment report to determine a plan of action.

Counsel for the HSE had said they had not received all reports available for the girl and without them they would not be able to plan for the girl’s care. He said the CFA and the HSE had been in discussions and when the psychiatric assessment was available, they would be able to fully plan for her. He asked the judge that the HSE be released from the witness summons.

The judge said that there had been ample information given to the HSE, but he would relax and lift the in camera rule to allow the CFA to forward all reports to the HSE. He said it was not his position to second guess the concerns of the GAL that nothing was prepared for this girl. The judge refused to lift the witness summons for the HSE. He adjourned the matter for two weeks and said the focus must remain with the girl to secure her future.