Baby of drug addicts to remain in care until aged 18

Older children were neglected and abused, says Judge Colin Daly at Family Court

Judge Colin Daly acknowledged the parents had made some progress towards recovery and had also put their daughter’s needs ahead of their own in consenting to the care order Photograph: Collins Courts

Judge Colin Daly acknowledged the parents had made some progress towards recovery and had also put their daughter’s needs ahead of their own in consenting to the care order Photograph: Collins Courts

Tue, Jan 21, 2014, 07:31

An infant girl taken into care by the Child and Family Agency as soon as she was born will remain in care until she is 18, a judge at Dublin’s District Family Court ruled yesterday.

Judge Colin Daly said given the history of abuse and neglect of the couple’s older children, it was in the best interests of the infant that she remain in care.

The infant at the centre of the full care order – to age 18 – had been the subject of interim care orders since she was born. Her social worker said the infant’s “health, development and welfare” would be detrimentally affected if she were returned to her parents.

Her parents were known to the Child and Family Agency, formerly the HSE, for a number of years, the social worker said. They both had “significant drug problems” and had older children, all of whom also had full care orders made for them.

They had opportunities to address their habit, she said, but had not done so, though they were currently in a drug stabilisation programme.


Relapse
A previous attempt at reunification with some of the older children did not succeed. Though the parents were drug-free for some time, they relapsed and the children were neglected, hungry and physically abused and had been sexually abused by an acquaintance. There was also a history of domestic violence against the mother. “They always put their need for drugs before their children,” the social worker said.

The parents were living in bed and breakfast accommodation, having been evicted from two local authority houses due to antisocial behaviour.

The social worker conceded the couple got regular supervised access visits and were both “very good” with their daughter.

Giving evidence, the mother, in her 30s, said she had decided it was in the best interests of her daughter for the child to be in care until she was in a better position to provide for her.

The mother had been drug- free “for a good while” during pregnancy and had thought “everything would be great”, but then relapsed. She hoped she might be able to bring up her daughter if she could “just get a year” to address her addictions and her housing.


‘Abusive and violent’
The infant’s father, who was unrepresented, also accepted the need for a care order. He acknowledged he had been “abusive and violent” in the past, but said he felt they were “getting punished for past mistakes”.

Judge Daly said he believed it was in the best interests of the infant that she be placed in care until her 18th birthday. It was probable the infant would experience abuse and neglect and witness domestic violence if she were returned to her parents.

He acknowledged the parents had made some progress towards recovery and had also put their daughter’s needs ahead of their own in consenting to the care order. “It is clear both of you care for and very much love your daughter,” he said.

He listed the case for 12 months’ time to review the progress of the parents and the infant. He also ordered that the process to match the infant with long-term foster parents be completed in 16 weeks.

The case was among a dozen childcare proceedings listed at the Dublin District Family Court in Dolphin House yesterday. Legislation allowing the reporting of childcare and family law cases came into force last week. Parties involved cannot be identified.