Health Service Executive -v- NC (Interim Care Order - Substance Abuse)

Case OutcomeApproved
CourtDistrict Court
Docket NumberN/A
JudgeHorgan P.
Judgment Date23 Oct 2013
Neutral Citation[2013] IEDC 18
IEDC [2013] 18
- AND -
23 October 2013
1. This is an applicat ion for an extension of an Interim Care Order under S.17 of t he Child Care Act, 1991 (herein after refe rred to as
‘the 1991 Act’) in respec t a child (aged 2).
2. I am satisfied that the mother has been properly served with not ice of t hese proceedings she was present a nd was legally
represented in Court. The mother conteste d the extension of the interim care order.
3. I am satisfied that the fat her has been properly served with not ice of t hese proceedings he was present and w as legally
represented in Court. The father supported t he Health Service Exec utive (HSE) application to extend the Interim Care Order.
4. The c hild’s interests are not s eparately represented by a Guardian Ad Litem in t his case.
5. On 19 December 2012 the HSE sought an interim care howeve r, the c ourt felt t hat the child was best supported at home with the
mother and a Supervision Order was granted under S.19 of t he 1991 Act and a c omprehensive protec tion plan was put in place . On 13
February 2013 the supervision order was reviewed by the c ourt and exte nded until 15th November 2013. The protec tion plan remained
in place.
6. On 26 September 2013 the HSE applied for an Interim Care Order under S.17 of t he 1991 Act, the mother voluntarily agreed to this
care order by c onsent under S.4 of the 1991 Act .
7. The HSE are seeking to e xtend that Care Order as they have conce rns that t he mother is not able to meet the developmental and
basic c are needs of t he child at this time and believe that s ubstance abuse issues impede the mother at this t ime.
8. Evidence of the assigned SW w as that the mother’s demeanour and behaviour gave them cause to believe t hat previously admitted
substance dependency of the mother cont inued to dominate her life. The SW Department believed that the National Drug Centre
would not now be able t o provide treatment for t he mother and recommended a co mmunity det ox through the mother’s GP. The Social
Worker acknowledged the mother’s position that she had abstained from drugs but her behaviour did not support this. It was
acknowledged that the mother has been at tending a HSE drug treatment service f or assessments and has begun giving urine samples
but results of the urine samples were not available to t he court.
9. The mother complained that t he child sustained injuries in foster care. T his was invest igated by t he HSE who spoke to t he child,
the c rèche and t he carer and t hey conc luded that the c hild was safe in the f oster place ment. The assigned SW c onceded on cross
examination that there was a small mark in the c hild’s ear and a ve ry small mark on than t he child’s arm, which might have been
10. The Soc ial Worker stated t hat the mother had missed 2 out of 9 recent a cc ess visits, w as late f or 3 visits and 1 visit finished
early and that the fat her has missed 3 of the 5 planned ac cess v isits for the pas t few weeks.
11. Family Soc ial Worker 1 who has supported acc ess onc e a week since 9 September said that t he mother was not attuned t o the
needs of t he child. The f irst feedbac k given to the mother was to foc us on the child and stop t exting or ringing on the mobile phone
during the visit. The F amily Social Worker said that t he in general the mother will spend 5 to 10 minutes reading to the c hild or playing
with the c hild and then she will pull away as if she is unable to foc us in the c hild for any longer.
12. Family Soc ial Worker 2 who worked with t he mother from April till August 2013 said they observed the mother giving hugs to the
child on an intermittent basis. T he Family Social Worker said that the mother didn’t have soap or t owels to wash the c hild, that she
used a duvet cover t o dry the c hild and that t he mother was c ooking the food but leaving the child to fee d itself. T he Family Social
Worker said that the mother doesn’t know how to play t he child, not t hat she doesn’t want to play with t he child. The Family Social
Worker said that the mother buys the child toys but that she doesn’t play with him.
13. The mother in her evidence was aggressive and highly agitated.
14. She said that she has been suf fering from health problems since her child has been taken into c are, that she is depressed, that
she has been suff ering from sleeplessness. She had no inte rvention for these t hings. The mother said that she ca me off all drugs
including her medications except for her inhaler. She locked herself in her apartment with the blinds drawn to do this and she is now
clean and c lear of any subst ances f or the past 9 weeks on Friday (Oc tober 25). Absent help she detoxed on her own. T he mother
state d that she gets s creened by a drug treatment service t hrough supervised urine analysis. The mother said that the drug
treatment programme will not give her urine results t o her but that the HSE have to ask them for the results and have failed to do so.
15. The mother stat ed that she was c oncerned about the c hild’s temporary fost er placement. The mother said that since t he c hild
moved to this placement t he child had become aggressive and showed no affec tion and had start ed referring to her by name. The
mother said that the child told her and the grandmother that he was being hit in the new foster home and that when she asked what
was going on in the house t he child pointed t o his left ear, left eye and his head. The mother said she saw a mark on his upper leg
and a bruise on his arm. The mother stated t hat she got her mother to report what the c hild said to the so cial worker as she felt they
wouldn’t take it seriously from her.

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