An Interim Care Order was extended for a teenager (A) who had gone missing from her residential unit and was subsequently arrested for being drunk and disorderly. The mother told the court that she had concerns for her daughter who had a history of absconding from her unit, and on the night in question she had taken Ecstasy and alcohol.
The social worker told the court that the mother and daughter had a very combustible relationship – a knife had been produced last year which had given rise to the care proceedings before the court. Those concerns still continued to exist and A did not want to return home. The social worker said that a peer had threatened to kill A if she returned home and that the Gardaí were investigating that threat.
When A had gone missing from her residential placement last week there had been an altercation with the Gardaí and she was arrested late at night. She was taken to the Garda station for being drunk and disorderly, there were no charges arising however, the social worker said.
There was a transition plan for A to begin the step-down process but there were concerns in relation to her substance misuse and a lack of attendance at her course.
The solicitor for the mother told the court that it was the mother’s opinion that the CFA were minimising A’s behaviour while in care and not fully setting out all her behaviours. Her mother was also worried about her using drugs and alcohol.
The mother’s solicitor told the court that the girl was in the Garda Station overnight because there was no staff member from her residential unit available to collect her. It was her mother who was then contacted to collect her.
The mother told the court that the girl’s residential unit had contacted her on a number of occasions and told her that her daughter had stayed out at night and not contacted them.
She told the court that on the night A was arrested she had come to her house to get ready for a 21st birthday party and had left at 9pm. At 12am two Gardai had called to the house to ask her to come and collect her daughter at the station, she said when she went to collect A from the holding cell she was quite aggressive. The Sergeant had told her that her daughter was under the influence of something and that she had been violent.
A had not attended her substance abuse service for counselling on addiction issues for over a month, said her mother.
She was worried that A would have too much freedom in her step-down placement because she would be able to come and go as she pleased. “She won’t be keeping the curfew at 12am, she’ll go home when she’s ready to go home,” said her mother. She felt her current residential unit did not have enough input.
Mother: “She can have her own way of doing things, that’s the nature of A.”
Judge: “What do you think would help her more in the transition [to her step-down placement]? They have allocated an aftercare worker, and committed to funding her education, is there anything else you would think would help?”
Mother: “Honestly I don’t know, I’m really concerned about the road she’s on at the moment, she had great ideas of finishing her Leaving Cert, everything has spiralled out of control as far as I can see, the area she’s hanging around… and the people she’s hanging around with.
“I kept her with me Saturday night, and I rang [her residential unit]. Sometimes I don’t know where she is and there’s still nights I’m going to be bed, I don’t know that she’s safe and what company she’s keeping. Is there going to be some night two guards come to the door and tell me they found her body somewhere, who am I going to find responsible for that?”
Judge: “I know where you’re coming from but the reality is she can’t be at home at the moment and you have to deal with the options you have at the moment, you have to deal with the counselling and she needs to pursue her course. I would share with you your concern about her moving to [her residential placement], she needs huge support around that but the social worker has told me she will give her that.”
Mother: “She can call me anytime.”
The solicitor appointed to the child told the court that A (who was present in court) wanted to thank her mother and she appreciated she had supported her so far in care, “she knows she strays”, said her solicitor.
The judge pointed out to the CFA solicitor that A was to reach the age of majority during the summer and she was not the subject of a Full Care Order. She said that the court would have no jurisdiction regarding a care plan and that there needed to be a Care Order if the CFA were to have statutory duties to A in relation to her after-care plan, an after care worker, her educational needs and funding for counselling. A’s solicitor was in agreement.
The judge put the case in For Mention the following week to fix a hearing date, “we need the legal points clarified before A is 18,” she said.
She asked for the CFA to furnish an attendance record on the next court date for A’s course and for A to prioritise her course “and the opportunity she is being given in life which is her future. I know A gets that because she’s smart,” concluded the judge.
The Interim Care Order was extended.