The district court granted the extension of an interim care order on consent and adjourned case management and access applications to allow the mother undergo therapy sessions. Present in court were the parents, solicitor for the CFA, a social worker, solicitor for the guardian ad litem (GAL) and counsel for the parents.
During an application for the extension of an ICO, the solicitor for the Child and Family Agency (CFA) told the judge that, following discussions outside of court, both parents had consented to the extension to allow the parties an opportunity to read the reports. The court heard that the CFA had taken the position that the child would stay in the current placement while a review would take place. Given the number of placements the child had had, the CFA solicitor said that it was important to consider the potential of further moves as opposed to reunification.
The social worker told the court that the agency was concerned with the appropriate environment for the child and had nothing to do with the parents’ engagement with the process. The social worker said that the child was doing very well and that the placement was addressing the child’s needs. She said it was the right environment for the child and a secure base from which to make progress. The social worker stated that the interim care order extension was in the best interest of the child.
The court heard that the mother had agreed to undergo therapy sessions twice weekly. The social worker said that, upon completion of the 14 therapy sessions, they would be in a better position to decide “where we are going from there”.
During cross-examination, the social worker explained that at the beginning of the process they had not realised that the child had so many moves in his short life. The court heard that the child continued to have access to both parents. She said that the mother’s engagement had been really good. The father was attending his access appointments and this was working very well. The social worker said that the adjournment would allow for more appropriate assessments, including psychological assessments, and to explore the prospect of reunification.
Counsel for the mother noted that the interim care order was initially granted for twelve weeks and said that the mother would advocate for the child to go to a different placement in the event that she had to move to another country. [The history of the case included litigation about the appropriate jurisdiction in which it should be heard.]
Solicitor for the GAL supported the proposed plan and adjournment. When the judge asked if anyone had any issues with the proceedings continuing in the absence of the GAL, nobody objected. The judge asked whether the monthly meetings between the GAL and the social worker had taken place. The court heard that only one meeting had taken place so far.
When the Judge asked for an update in relation to the assessment of the father involving the Gardai, the CFA answered it was ongoing.
The judge was satisfied on the evidence provided that it was in the best interest of the child to continue in the care of the Child and Family Agency. Taking into account that both parents were present and had consented, the judge extended the interim care order and adjourned the case management and access applications to the same date.