Child in care had 20 changes of access supervisor in two years

Psychologist says situation unsatisfactory but ‘not too different to others’

The father in the case has been having access with his daughter in an “access house”, with supervision staff in one livingroom and he and his daughter in a livingroom and kitchen.

The father in the case has been having access with his daughter in an “access house”, with supervision staff in one livingroom and he and his daughter in a livingroom and kitchen.

 

A child in care has had 20 changes of supervising personnel during access visits with her father in the past two years, the Dublin District Child Care Court has been told. Under cross-examination in an application to retain the child in care until adulthood, a clinical psychologist agreed it was “not conducive” to good access to have multiple changes in personnel, but the girl’s case was “not too different to others, unfortunately”.

The psychologist also said when she visited the girl at her foster carers’ home earlier this year, her remit was to test her hypothesis that news given to the child of her upcoming court case had caused some stress-related behaviours. After the visit, she found her hypothesis was correct.

Asked by counsel for the girl’s father whether alternative stressors were considered, including “within the foster home”, the psychologist said any stressors can cause issues, but when there is a sense of permanency, a secure foundation of a home, then stressors are better mediated.

The primary school child has been the subject of a series of interim care orders, followed by a full care order to last two years, with the prospect of reunification with her father. But the agency has now said it is in the child’s best interests to remain with her foster carers.

The father is opposing the application and the girl’s mother has not been involved in the case. The father has been having access with his daughter in an “access house”, with supervision staff in one livingroom and he and his daughter in a livingroom and kitchen.

Counsel for the father asked why, in one of her visits with the child, the psychologist had referred to her natural father as “Daddy [father’s name]” when the child only called him “Daddy”, and it was the foster carers’ who called him “Daddy [father’s name]”. “Why did you adopt the foster carers’ phrase?” she asked.

The psychologist responded that she was in the foster carers’ home at the time.

Counsel also queried why the psychologist had held her meeting with the child in the foster carers’ home, given the father had ongoing concerns that the foster carers were creating barriers to his access and to reunification. She responded that if she had been carrying out a parental assessment, it would have been more appropriate to do it elsewhere, but since she was attending to give “clinical assistance”, it was not.

Cross-examination of the psychologist continues before Judge Brendan Toale.

In a separate case, the judge heard submissions on an application to exclude the press from a hearing involving children in care. The judge rejected a preliminary application, by the children’s parents, to exclude the press from attending the hearing to consider whether the press should be excluded. He adjourned the matter to October 25th.