A court in a rural town extended an interim care order for 28 days for a child who had arrived in the State as an unaccompanied minor a year and a half earlier. The child was of primary school age.
A man claiming to be the adoptive father of the child was removed from the proceedings.
The solicitor for the CFA said the father of the child was deceased and the social work department was engaging with an international agency to locate the mother in Africa as her whereabouts were unknown.
The social worker was a member of the social work team for separated children. She said the child required protection. A number of disclosures were made to the social worker and there were suspicions that the child had been trafficked.
The guardian ad litem supported the application and was in agreement that a hearing date for a full care order should be set.
Interim care orders were extended in three further cases.
In one case concerns were expressed about the level of engagement of the parents in addressing their problems. The social worker said: “The parents have not engaged with the plan and there are concerns. They [the parents] need to re-engage with counselling and urinalysis.”
The solicitor for the mother said: “Do you undertake to put in place a detailed plan as to what expectations are to be met?”
The social worker said: Yes…. I would encourage the parents to get feedback and engage with the parenting capacity assessment team.”
The solicitor for the father said: “He [the father] has re-engaged with his counsellor.”
The social worker said: “He had not mentioned it.”
The solicitor for the GAL said the children would benefit from a more comprehensive psychological assessment and the social worker said that the CFA had agreed to meet about this that week.
Another interim care order was extended in respect of one child whose parents were involved with addiction services. The father was represented but was not present and the mother was not present either. The solicitor for the CFA said the mother was aware of the case and was in court on the last occasion. She had been advised to contact the Legal Aid Board. The GAL was supporting the application.
The social worker said contact with the parents had been limited. She said: “We attempted to contact the mother and sent a letter to her address. They [the parents] are transient but they would be able to receive letters.”
The father contacted the social work department to inform them that he was in an in-patient programme. The father tried to contact the mother on his phone and said she was going away until she got in-patient treatment herself.
The social worker explained that the child was placed with a relative and the placement was meeting his needs. The child was very settled and his grandparents had access with him. She said: “There is a plan that he [the child] can see other family members …They [the parents] have been inconsistent with the access. There was consent to his baptism and a date was arranged but we could not confirm the final plan with the parents. The grandparents contacted the father but he was not in agreement [with the baptism].”
The solicitor for the father asked: “There is an access to be put in place. How are you doing that?”
She replied: “There is a period of time he must stay in the [in-patient] centre. We looked to see if there is a key worker to assist him [with access] and we will proceed on that basis.”