Young people in care were directly represented by their own solicitors in a number of cases in a District Court in a provincial city.
A review of a Care Order took place in relation to a young girl whose foster placement had broken down and who was living in a residential centre. The girl, who was present in court and legally represented, said that she wanted to return to her previous foster carers.
Her solicitor told the court that she wanted to be given an opportunity to show that she had matured. The CFA solicitor said that a family welfare conference should be given priority given that the young girl was in a residential placement. The judge directed that this take place as soon as possible and congratulated the girl and said she was doing better than most in her situation.
An application for a Supervision Order in respect of teenage boy was adjourned. He had made significant efforts and had made a significant improvement in terms of his behaviour, the court was told. The mother said that she would consent to the Supervision Order. The boy was represented by a solicitor who explained that he and his mother were under scrutiny by the CFA. The solicitor assured the court that the boy would continue to attend school.
In another case an Interim Care Order was extended on consent for a young girl. The social worker said that it was quite difficult to try and broker a positive relationship between the girl and her mother. The girl’s solicitor said that she did not want to see her mother but the mother had expressed a desire to have contact with girl.
A review of a Care Order took place in a case where the girl’s father had been living abroad for a number of years but had recently returned. The judge commented on her school report and said that she was a bright girl and assured the girl that the situation surrounding her was not her problem. The judge also said that he was very impressed with her school reports. The father was unrepresented and was criticised by the judge and threatened with imprisonment for posting material on Facebook that breached the in camera rule relating to the child care proceedings.
A review of another Care Order took place where both parents of a child had died. The CFA solicitor said that the girl was very influenced by the people she hung around with but that she seemed to be behaving a bit more respectfully towards staff in the residential centre where she lived. The court heard that she was sending her CV to prospective employers to look for work but the social worker told the court that she was hopeful that the girl might chose to re-engage in education. The court was also told that the girl was facing criminal proceedings and the question of aftercare was being addressed. The matter was listed again for six months time.
A Care Order was granted until 18 for a girl in a case where the judge praised the mother saying “she is honest, kind and can reflect on what she needs to do. I hope her contact with her son will not diminish because of the order I make. I suggest that she can decide how she is going to avoid possible dangers.”
A Care Order was re-listed in a case where the CFA solicitor told the court that all the professionals in the case were worried about the mother. The CFA solicitor said that mental health services were offered to her but she was not engaging with them.
The CFA solicitor said that the staff at the residential centre where the mother and her baby lived could not ensure the safety of the baby or other residents in light of the mother’s current presentation. The CFA solicitor said that there was a longstanding diagnosis of emotionally unstable personality disorder. The court heard that a psychological assessment had been conducted in respect of the mother which provided an insight into how she conducts relationships.
The mother’s solicitor said that the mother’s view was that she was led to understand that she would get to parent her baby and that she now believed that the residential centre never intended for that to happen.