Child and Family Agency and KC & Anor (Care Order - Proportionality)

CourtDistrict Court (Ireland)
JudgeDaly J.
Judgment Date22 August 2014
Neutral Citation[2014] IEDC 12
Case OutcomeApproved
Date22 August 2014
[2014] IEDC 12
Child Care Act 1991 – Section 18 (1)
In the matter of Child S, a child
22 August 2014
1. This is the Child and Family Agency’s (CFA) application for a c are order in respect of Child S until he/she reaches his/her age of
majority at eighteen years of age.
2. The mother and fat her of Child S have been served wit h notice o f this applicat ion and were in attendanc e at court and legally
represented. The mother consented t o a c are order being granted for Child S until he/she reaches his/her age of majority at eighteen
years of age or such order of shorter duration as the c ourt may determine. The father c onsented t o a c are order enduring for a period
of three ye ars and suggested t his is a more proportionate order to grant in this c ase.
Brief Background
3. The bac kground to this family may be summarised in the following manner. The mother has during her childhood been in the c are of
the st ate and has a history of subst ance misuse, mental health difficulties and homelessness since her teenage years. She has
suffered dramatic events in her life since that time and in 2010 her three older children were rece ived into the c are of the Health
Service Execut ive (as it w as then) and t he children were placed w ith their grandmother where t hey remain.
4. The mother beca me pregnant with Child S in September 2012 and Child S was born in March 2013. Child S was treated f or serious
drug withdrawal symptoms shortly aft er his/her birth. Child S was rec eived into t he care of the Health Servic e Executive in April 2013
prior to his/her discharge from hospital in April 2013. He/she has been plac ed since then in the c are of his grand aunt a nd her
5. Since April 2013 the mother has attended at a loc al drug treatment fac ility with varying degrees of engagement and relatively little
succ ess. Various incidents are rec orded by the social work department which give rise to conc erns in the relation to t he mother's
emotional stability and instances at her home which raise serious questions about her ability t o act as a protect ive fact or for any
child that might be in her care. The mother’s engagement with the soc ial work department has varied considerably during this time
and she has failed to engage with an ass essment of her ca pacity t o parent.
6. The mother did not disclose the identity of Child S’s father until November 2013 and his paternity was confirmed in April 2014. The
mother and father completed a st atutory dec laration appointing the fat her as a joint guardian of Child S with t he mother during the
course of the hearing.
7. The f ather himself has a history of drug misuse and addiction of long-st anding. I have heard evidence t hat the father is c urrently
being investigated for serious drug offenc es although no c harge has yet bee n made. The mother and father appear to continue t o be
unstable in their drug use.
8. The mother’s att endance at acc ess visits with Child S has been sporadic and inc onsistent. T he father commenced a ttendanc e with
Child S in April 2014. His att endance has been consist ent and of relatively good quality. The father is seeking an increase in ac cess
between him and Child S. The CFA is of the opinion that t his is not in Child S’s interest at this time. The s ocial worker has expressed
her conce rn regarding the fa ther’s acc eptance of Child S’s care s tatus and frustration at the soc ial work system which appear to
have manifested themselves during recent ac cess visits.
The CFA case in summary
9. The CFA case may be summarised in the f ollowing terms: Child S needs permanency and stability in order for him/her to lead a
happy and healthy life. Child S’s emotional, social and physical welfare has bee n and is likely to be avoidably impaired if he/she were
to be ret urned to the c are of his/her parents. The CFA is of the profes sional opinion that neither the mother nor the fat her are in a
position to meet Child S’s care needs.
The Mothers Case in summary
10. The mother's case may be summarised as follows: s he consent s to a care order for Child S until he reaches his/her majority or in
the alternative consents to a care order of shorte r duration if the court should so determine. She requests a full review in two years
to allow her to progress in her drug rehabilitation and parenting capac ity and to engage in treatment for her mental health difficulties.
Counsel for the mother has indicated it is the mother's intention to a pply to discharge t he care order aft er two years. During this time
she intends to commit to drug treatment at an addiction service facility, at tending acc ess, engaging with a parental capac ity

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