Mother cannot leave hospital as she has no home, court told

Woman cannot be assessed for reunification with children until accommodation found

A mother with three children in care cannot leave a psychiatric hospital because no suitable accommodation is available for her, nor can she be assessed for reunification with her children until she has suitable accommodation, the Dublin District Family Court has been told.

A social worker with the Child and Family Agency said the mother's doctors agreed that she was ready to leave hospital, but there was nowhere for her to go.

She needed supported accommodation where the agency could assess her ability to look after herself and her children. She could not return to the house she lived in before being admitted to hospital as the landlord had taken steps to evict her.

The social worker on Thursday told Judge Rosemary Horgan they had been working to find accommodation for the woman for many months, including through her local authority, but there was nothing suitable. The agency applied to extend an interim care order for three of the woman's children. Two other children live abroad with their father.


Counsel for the mother said her client wanted her children returned to her and wanted to move to live in an inn she had named, although all parties agreed the inn was not a physical place, but was “in her heart”. She said the mother was “falling between stools”.

“She is voluntarily remaining in hospital and taking up a bed when she should not be in hospital,” counsel said. “It [the council] says there is nothing available, intellectual disability services have refused her . . . it has been several months now and nothing is happening.”

She said suitable accommodation was the first step toward being considered for family reunification, but she was “effectively blocked from that”.


The children’s court-appointed guardian said two of the children were happy with a relative foster carer and the youngest was settled in a separate placement. He said the relative had suggested the mother find private rented accommodation close to her, where she could offer some support.

The judge asked if private accommodation was sourced, whether there would be an issue with a deposit. A solicitor for the agency said they would look into it.

Extending the interim care order, Judge Horgan noted that for many years, the mother was the sole carer of a large family in very difficult circumstances. She said her goal of reunification with her children was reasonable.

In a separate case, the judge said she wanted to hear evidence from a member of the agency’s resource panel next week, if aftercare accommodation was not sorted out for a teenager due to turn 18 later this year.

The teenager had been through eight foster placements since coming into care five years ago and it was “extraordinary” that he had settled in his current placement, the judge said.

He was unwilling to undergo an assessment with a psychologist for a further placement, earmarked for his aftercare. She asked why he could not remain in his current placement after turning 18. A solicitor for the agency said there were licensing issues for the premises. “It behoves the agency to think outside the box,” the judge said.

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland is a crime writer and former Irish Times journalist