Boy remains in agency care ‘as foster carers cannot be found’

The boy can be ‘quite violent’ and has severe emotional difficulties, court hears

A boy and his two sisters, who have been under the supervision of the Child and Family Agency since early 2016, had been living in ‘very sad’ circumstances in a ‘chaotic home’, a court has heard. Photograph: iStock

A boy and his two sisters, who have been under the supervision of the Child and Family Agency since early 2016, had been living in ‘very sad’ circumstances in a ‘chaotic home’, a court has heard. Photograph: iStock

 

A young boy with behavioural problems will continue to live with relatives under the supervision of the Child and Family Agency (CFA) because foster carers cannot be found for him, the Dublin District Child Care Court heard on Wednesday.

Judge Bernadette Owens was told the boy and his two sisters, who have been under the supervision of the agency since early 2016, had been living in “very sad” circumstances in a “chaotic home”.

There had been allegations in the past of physical and emotional abuse, she said. In the past few years, the children were being cared for by relatives and had been split up.

“My primary concern is the inconsistency” which had impacted on the children’s school and their behaviour, she said.

The children are currently getting family support services three days a week, which helped with getting them to school and with homework, she said.

The primary school-going boy had been referred to child and adolescent mental health services and attended play therapy.

The social worker agreed with the solicitor for the children’s court-appointed guardian that the boy had severe emotional difficulties, most likely associated with “attachment problems” (a failure to form normal attachments in early childhood). She agreed he was “quite violent” and had attacked his cousins. She said they were seeking a place for him with foster carers.

The boy’s profile had been sent out to find him a foster family but nothing had come back, she said.

Since then, she had agreed with the fostering department that a special package could be put in place for potential foster carers. This would include activities for the boy so carers could have respite, she said. She also said she was seeking additional family support hours for all the children.

Neither parents were in court, and the judge was told the mother was aware the agency was seeking to extend the supervision order and was happy for it to go ahead.

Judge Owens granted the order for 12 months.

Interim care order

In a separate case, an application to extend an interim care order for two small children was granted after the court heard their parents were homeless and the mother would not agree to leave her violent partner.

The boy was initially taken into care on an emergency basis after a physical assault on him in January this year, and his younger sister was taken into care shortly afterwards. The social worker said the “vulnerable, young parents” lived chaotic lives, were homeless and had a violent relationship.

“They are both prioritising their relationship over the needs of their children,” he said.

A re-unification plan had been put in place for the family, which included addressing their accommodation needs, regular access to the children, a parenting capacity assessment for the mother and drug rehabilitation for the father.

One of the conditions involved the couple separating from their “enmeshed, co-dependent, violent relationship”, the social worker said, but the mother had said she would not consider it. Attempts at providing her with accommodation had failed and the father had refused to take up a place offered to him in residential treatment.

Asked by the solicitor for the mother whether the mother’s access with the children was good, the social worker said it was when she attended. He said she presented well and behaved appropriately.

“There is no doubt she loves her children and is attentive to their needs,” he said.

Supporting the application to keep the children in care, their court-appointed guardian said they were very settled with their foster carers. At access, the boy had been walking around the room unaided, exploring, he said, and the girl was “wide awake and looking around”. She said their mother had “looked fantastic” and was “a natural” with her children.

The care order was extended for a month.

Separately, an order to retain an infant in care was continued by the court. The baby boy was taken into care by the agency shortly after birth earlier this summer. His mother was a heroin user and had no contact with the baby since his birth when he was taken to a hospital intensive care unit, the court was told. The social worker said the mother declined to see the boy and did not want any information about him.