An Interim Care Order was granted in the District Court for a teenage Traveller girl whose parents were both deceased, she had no legal guardian and nowhere to reside. No one in her extended family had come forward to apply for guardianship and she had no contact with them. She was currently living in a residential unit and her siblings were residing with family.
Her mother, who was recently deceased, had signed the girl into voluntary care earlier in the year for three months, following risk-taking behaviour.
“Her family have stated that they want nothing to do with her,” said the social worker, “[The girl] is of the view she cannot return to her family for fear of repercussions for her high risk behaviour, her family currently place a lot of the blame for the death of her mother on her.” If the ICO was not granted, she would have no guardian and nowhere to reside, said the social worker.
The teenager’s high risk behaviour had escalated earlier in the year, she said, when she had engaged in sexual activity and recorded it on video and posted it online on Facebook. Her extended family had found out about it and had said that she had shamed her family community and that they would not react kindly to her in the halting site.
She was then placed into emergency care by her mother, who was worried that her daughter was absconding from home on a regular basis and engaging in sexual behaviour. The social worker told the court that the girl had maintained she did not want to return home from care, nevertheless as there were no child protection concerns it was decided she would return. However, on the way home she absconded and was subsequently placed once again in an emergency bed.
“She continues to place herself at risk,” said the social worker, she told the court that the girl was drinking and spending time with inappropriate individuals, she was easily led and there were concerns about her emotional well-being from being exposed to her mother’s mental health problems.
Her mother had passed away due to an eating disorder. Her family blamed the girl for her mother’s admission into hospital and subsequent death, said the social worker. She agreed with the girl about her fear of returning home, she did not appear to have any family relationships at present and required therapeutic counselling in relation to her mother’s death and addiction services for alcohol use.
The social work department were looking for early Care Order hearing dates, no family member was willing or able to care for her, said the social worker.
The ICO was extended.