Health Service Executive -v- YC & anor (Physical and Substance Abuse

CourtDistrict Court (Ireland)
JudgeDaly J.
Judgment Date30 October 2012
Neutral Citation[2012] IEDC 19
Case OutcomeApproved
Date30 October 2012
[2012] IEDC 19
30 October 2012
1. This is an applicat ion for a Care Order under section 18 of t he Child Care Act, 1991 (herein after referred to as ‘t he 1991 Act’) in
respect of Child 1, heard on 30 October 2012. Child 1 is currently in the c are of t he Health Service Exec utive (HSE). Child 1 was first
admitte d to t he care of the HSE pursuant to an application for an Emergency Care Order on 31 October 2006; returned to his
mother’s care on 30 May 2007; placed in voluntary c are on 10 September 2007; and subject t o an Interim Care Order on 17 December
2008, which was extended by the Court on s even occ asions until Child 1 was subject to a Care Order with the c onsent of his parents
on 19 November 2009 for a period of three ye ars. In the period from October 2006 to dat e, Child 1 has lived at eight different
2. Child 1 was represented in these proceedings by his Guardian Ad Litem. T he Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) indicated t o the Court her
support for a Care Order in respect of the child and recommended such Order be for t he full duration.
3. Child 1’s mother, the f irst named respondent, attended Court and was legally represented. She indicat ed her opposition to t he
making of a Care Order and noted her aim to have Child 1 returned to her c are.
4. Child 1’s father, the sec ond named respondent, att ended Court; however, he was not legally represented and his legal team were
allowed to c ome off record on 26 Oct ober 2012 in circumstances where his lawye rs advised the Court t he fat her had advised them he
no longer wishes them to act on his behalf. The Court advised t he father t hat he had suff icient notic e of the proceedings and t hat it
was his responsibility to have arranged representat ion.
5. I am satisfied that both parents have been properly served with notic e of t he proceedings and that in the c hild’s interests the
matter should proceed.
6. I am satisfied that the [District given] has jurisdict ion to deal with t his case notwithstanding the fact that Child 1 is living in a
placement outside of t his District Court’s District on a care order of limited duration on the basis t hat Child 1’s residence reverts t o
that of his parents who c ontinue to reside in this District Court’s District on t he expiration of the c are order.
7. I have heard the evidence of Social Worker 1 who was involved with t he child from July 2007 to May 2009. She confirmed and
adopted her reports at Tabs 26, 28, 30, and 31 of the Booklet of Evidence. She gav e evidence of conc erns of significant risk which
resulted in Child 1’s c oming into voluntary c are (which later resulted in an Interim Care Order being sought and granted when the
mother indicat ed she may withdraw her consent to vo luntary care) which included the mother’s alcohol and drug misuse, her
disengagement wit h her treatment programme and the history of a domestic violent relationship with the f ather (which is now denied
by the mother). Soc ial Worker 1 gave evidence of t he supports of fered to t he mother to address thes e difficulties. She gave evidence
that t he mother and the fa ther were not living toget her at t hat t ime and that it was difficult t o determine the stat us of t heir
relationship. She gave evidence that t he mother engaged well during access with Child 1 and that ef forts to engage the f ather in
contac t with Child 1 were more difficult. She gave evidenc e that the fa ther was not considered as a viable option for care of Child 1
as there wa s an allegation of sexual abuse against him by Child 1’s half-sister (which wa s later co nfirmed by a treat ment unit) and
also because of his reportedly violent relationship with the mother. She gave evidence of how a c ultural mediator and a F amily
Support Worker were engaged to assist the f ather. Under cross examination, Social Worker 1 gave evidence t hat t here are conc erns
about the number of placements Child 1 has had since his reception into c are. T here were conc erns in November 2008 regarding the
foster fa milies understanding of how to meet t he child’s basic needs and how a further place ment was considered but only proc eeded
for one night.
8. I have heard the evidence of Social Worker 2 who has been allocat ed to t his case since July 2012. She gave evidence of the
difficulties she has had in meeting the parents to disc uss supports t hey might be offered. She a cc epted t he recommendations in the
Attac hment Specialist’s report and st ated that it is the soc ial work department’s intention to fulfil these rec ommendations and to
explore with the treat ment unit the best method to address t he child’s sexualised behaviour.
9. I have heard the evidence of the T eam Leader who has been involved in this case since July 2009. She adopte d and confirmed the
reports at T abs 9, 10, 13, 21-26, 28, and 30-33 of the Booklet of Evidence. She summarised her conc erns in this c ase as t he
mother’s alcohol and substance misuse, the mother’s and the f ather’s parenting capac ity, t he history of domestic violence bet ween
the fat her and the mother, and their neglect of Child 1. She positively rec ognised the mother’s engagement with addiction servic es
but noted her diminished relationship with social workers since Marc h 2012 and expressed her on-going conc erns regarding the
mother’s limited c apacity to parent given her level of funct ioning and her resumed relationship with the fat her. She expressed her
conc erns regarding the f ather’s limited ability to pa rent, particularly the put ting of his own needs ahea d of the child’s needs, his
inability t o relate to a child, his cont rolling behaviour, his difficulty in relating to s ocial workers and his levels of aggression and
threatening behaviour which has resulted in reports t o Gardaí on occas ion. She acc epted the recommendations of the Att achment
Specialist (below) and t he GAL. She gave ev idence that the mother and the father have s truggled with acc ess over time and that
this would cont inue to be reviewed. She gave evidence that the long-t erm plan for Child 1 is to remain with his current foster- family
who are approved long-te rm carers and t hat t he final matching process would be c ompleted if a Care Order is made by t he Court. She
expressed huge conce rns for Child 1 should he be returned to his parents’ care.
Under cross examination, she ac knowledged the initial conc erns regarding this foster-place ment, Child 1 being not t he only child in the
family, the foster- families ability to meet Child 1’s needs and small issues regarding Child 1’s presentat ion at ac cess, which have been

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