A teenager who was the subject of a Full Care Order was described by the judge during a review of the case in Dublin District Court as “a young woman who had experienced a lot of tragedy and difficulty in her young life, however from the evidence set out each of the care goals that have been set for [A] have been met and this has resulted in one of the good news stories that emerge from these courts, and it is down to the social work department, the aftercare worker, the GAL, all involved and [A] herself.”
After the tragic death of her mother, who died intestate, the teenager’s extended family would not allow her back into her mother’s house or let her have the keys. The HSE ensured she got legal representation to deal with these issues. The social worker told the court that since the last review she was often in touch with the GAL and A.
A was very involved with her aftercare worker. She was in general foster care and had a very good relationship with her carers. She was attending a Youth Reach Early Childhood Education course, which was an alternative to mainstream education. The course was due to finish this year and she hoped to go on to college.
The social worker told the court that A would be supported in her education through Aftercare, in both fees and accommodation (if she had to move to attend a course). Her drug and alcohol use had been very chaotic and of huge concern, but “she seems to have matured and is more aware of her health and safety and consuming alcohol in a safe manner”. The social worker believed she was still using cannabis, “but in a safe way”. A was attending weekly counselling through her educational placement.
While she planned to live independently, this depended on the location of her college course.
“What are A’s current views and wishes?” asked the solicitor for the HSE.
“She is very happy, very content, loves her foster placement and educational placement,” the social worker told him. However, her relationship with her wider family seemed to have broken down. In a statutory review her GAL had said that mediation could be facilitated if needed. She had a very good relationship with her mother’s ex-partner, she saw him as her father and they visited one another.
HSE solicitor: “Can you tell the court how far has A come while being supported by the HSE?”
Social worker: “It seems to have been very positive, she has stabilised, she is safe in her environment, her relationships with adults have improved significantly, her drug and alcohol use stabilised, she has really come around and done fantastic.”
The social worker told the court that A’s aftercare worker would remain in place until she was 21 and there was the option of him remaining in place until she was 23, this would support her further during her time in education.
The GAL told the court that a big juncture in the case was the application for the Full Care Order; A had no parent alive and no direction. The GAL felt the Care Order was appropriate as she had no parent. A road map had been drawn out in the GAL’s report, which included approval of a foster placement and independent legal advice. Everything had been addressed.
“A has matured, things have come together for her, it is somewhat of a success story. As a GAL I have the pleasure to recommend to the court the case can end before the court. It gives confirmation to A that she is doing well for herself. The cornerstone is the school placement in the [Youth Reach Centre], her Aftercare worker pulled a few strings to get her in, everything flowed from that, she started counselling, her placement was matched.
“The foster carer is always so committed to A. Her flash points have minimised, over Christmas she coped with family drama better, she was able to stand back from an incident over Christmas, which is a huge real life marker for her maturity. The future is bright. She still requires support, it’s still somewhat delicate because she can regress from time to time. She is happy about her plan. I am quite satisfied that everything is in order and the way it should be for everything to blossom.”
The judge noted that he had previously met with A himself and that she was “a young woman who had experienced a lot of tragedy and difficulty herself in her young life.” However from the evidence given today, each of the care goals that had been set for the teenager had been met “and this has resulted in one of the good news stories that emerge from these courts,” due to the work of all involved.
In conclusion, the judge said: “I would like to take this opportunity to wish A every success herself in her education and future life.”