In late 2016, the Child and Family Agency (CFA) sought an extension for two months to an Interim Care Order in respect of three children in care. The parents attended the proceedings. The social worker gave evidence that the criteria for the order were still met and the order was proportionate. The guardian ad litem (GAL) was in agreement with the CFA.
The social worker gave evidence that the mother had made “significant progress” and had attended semi-supervised access consistently which took place in the home. She said the mother was always prepared for the access visit, she had the house warm, clean and tidy. She tried her very best to encourage the children to do their homework and she structured the access visit very well. She was trying her best to build a relationship with the children. She had completed two parenting courses. The father had got a job so had not been able to commit fully to access. Both parents were attending for urine analysis, no drug taking had bee identified and they were co-operating with the testing requests.
The solicitor for the mother asked the social worker about an allegation made against the foster carers. The social worker informed the court that it was alleged the foster carer told one of the children that if he did not behave he would not be allowed go to the access visit. The social worker said the foster carer has been spoken to and it had been explained that not attending an access visit was never to be used as a punishment.
Two of the children were attending play therapy to help with their relationship with the parents. One child in particular needed support to work through the child’s own issues and then work on the relationship with the mother.
The social worker was asked if there were any actions that the mother could work on between now and the next review. The social worker encouraged the mother to work on housing and stability. The mother had experienced 15 house moves in the past 10 years. She would be in her current home for a one year period shortly.
The judge asked the social worker about an issue in the GAL’s report that the children thought the judge would be making a decision today about them returning to live with their parents. The mother had approached the social worker during access as the children asked her about going home around Christmas time. The social worker spoke to the children in the presence of the parents and explained to them that they would be in foster care for Christmas.
The solicitor for the father said there was a lot of change with regard to the father. He had more pride in himself, he has completed a course and got a job. He was committed to the children but it was difficult to make the access visits given they took place in the afternoon when he was working but he was prioritising making one visit a week. The social worker said the father’s presentation has improved over the past five months, he was brighter and more alert.
One of the children was described as being “very happy in the foster placement” and had “expressed reluctance and apprehension about returning home”. One of the children had been referred to CAMHS and was fourth on the waiting list.
The solicitor for the GAL asked about reunification. The social worker said there was no reunification plan currently in place. She indicated that change in the past had not been sustained and that they wished to wait and see if the progress made could be maintained and sustained first.
The judge granted the extension to the Interim Care Oder in respect of all three children.