Health Service Executive -v- CB & anor (Care Order - Neglect and Abuse)

CourtDistrict Court (Ireland)
JudgeHorgan P.
Judgment Date24 February 2012
Neutral Citation[2012] IEDC 5
Case OutcomeApproved
Date24 February 2012
[2012] IEDC 5
20-24 February 2012
1) This is an applicat ion for a Care Order under section 18 of t he Child Care Act 1991 in respect of two c hildren, Child 2 and Child 3,
aged 9 and 12 years respec tively.
2) Both respondents are separat ely represented in the proc eedings. The Court was informed at the opening of t he ca se by solicito r
for the fa ther that his client was consent ing to the application of t he HSE for a Care Order in respect of both c hildren until they reach
18 years on the bas is that t here co uld be a court review of the Care Order in 12 months’ time.
3) The fat her acc epts that the c hildren are well cared for in their current relative fost er placement and it is his intent ion to ent er into
an alcohol treat ment programme in the intervening period to overc ome his alcoholism.
4) The mother’s counsel indicated that his client opposed t he application of the HSE for a Care Order. While she ac cept ed that there
had been some problems leading to the c hildren being taken into care, her position was that HSE intervention necessary t o address
those problems did not require the rupture of the parental relationship she had wit h her sons and the matte r could be sat isfact orily
addressed by less-drac onian State intervention.
Family Composition
5) The mother, who is t he first named respondent in these proc eedings, has four children in total. Her firstborn, Child 1, is now 18
years old. The mother and the second named respondent have t wo children who are the subject matter of t hese proceedings: Child 2
and Child 3 and they were aged 9 and 7 years when they came into t he care of the HSE nineteen months ago.
6) The mother’s relationship with the sec ond named respondent was marred by episodic domestic violence — alt hough they c ontinued
to c ohabit until they s eparated in 2006. They reac hed an informal agreement on separation t hat the children would reside with their
mother during the week and have residential acc ess with t heir father from Friday to Monday. Pa rental relations appeared to bec ome
more c onflictual post separation and aft er the mother began her relationship with her partner. The fat her also had a relationship post
separation with his partner.
7) The mother began her relationship with her partner during 2010. The mother also has a child with her partner, Child 4, who was
born in November 2011.
Trigger for State Intervention
8) The immediate trigger to t he commencement of the proc eeding was the arrest of t he mother and her partner following an
altercat ion between t he mother and a neighbour over a dispute betwee n their children in relation to the making of a ‘go cart’. T he
Garda Síochána became involved when a neighbour complained that she and her c hildren were t hreatened by t he mother’s partner
with a gun. A Garda search o f the premises produced an air-gun and a bag c ontaining a shotgun and replica gun wit hin the environs
of the family home. A small quantity of cannabis resin was found in the house.
9) When the proc eedings were launched, t he HSE also alleged historical conc erns around neglect and emotional abuse of Child 1 as
well as Child 2 and Child 3 as rec orded in the evidence during the period from 1998-2010. There is no prior history of an application fo r
a Supervision Order or Care Order and these ‘c oncerns’ did not appear t o pass the threshold from professional ‘concerns’ into ‘abuse’
or ‘neglect’ heretofore. The National Educat ion Welfare Board engaged with the parents and HSE around significant absenteeism in
respect of Child 1 and 2 in the sc hool years 2008–2009 and 2009–2010.
10) An Interim Care Order granted on the 28 Sept ember 2010 was extended on 14 occ asions until the c onclusion of t his hearing.
Family Reunification Proposals
11) The HSE was open t o the possibility of family reunification onc e their concerns for t he safet y and welfare of the c hildren were
addressed. A major concern for t he HSE was the risk posed by a return of the children to the mother’s home and conta ct with the
mother’s partner. They were also anxious to address historical conc erns previously mentioned. Reunification was a heading in each
report to Court unt il November 2010.
12) The HSE intended to commence a process of family reunificat ion of the c hildren with their mother in her fat her’s home in
November of 2010 and applied for a Supervision Order. The mother was not legally represented at that time. It is common case that
terms of mutual agreement as t o the parameters of supervision were almost agreed. T he mother left t he precinct s of t he Court before
the Supervision Order applicat ion came before the Court. It is also c ommon case that her Social Worker, advised her that s he should
postpone her hospital appointment until the matter wa s ruled on consent; however she fa iled to do so. T he Court was not in a
position to make a Supervision Order in such c ircumstances and t he HSE applied for an Interim Care Order and same was granted for a
period of 28 days. The Court appointed a Guardian Ad Litem (“GAL”) for the children. The mother was of the view that the Supervision
Order arrangement should have been put into place either on t hat day or at least on the expiration of the Interim Care Order.
However, the c hildren remained in relative fo ster c are in County 1.
13) The pote ntial for family reunification remained current until the parenting capa city assessment of t he Psyc hologist. A c ontract
was drawn up betw een parents and t he HSE on 7 April 2011, set out at Tab 43A. A Family Welfare Conference Co-ordinator was
appointed on 8 February 2011 and positive Family Welfare Conferences t ook place on 1 June 2011, 8 Sept ember 2011, and 30

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