Health Service Executive -v- JM & anor (Care Order - Physical Abuse)

Case OutcomeApproved
CourtDistrict Court
Docket NumberN/A
JudgeDaly J.
Judgment Date22 May 2013
Neutral Citation[2013] IEDC 12
[2013] IEDC 12
AN CHUIRT DUICHE THE DISTRICT COURT
HEALTH SERVICE EXECUTIVE
APPLICANT
-AND-
JM & WL
RESPONDENTS
CHILD CARE ACT, 1991— SECTION 18
IN THE MATTER OF CHILD 1
22 May 2013
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, born in August 1997 and this case heard over 3 days from 20 to 22 May 2013. Child 1 was currently in the care of
the Health Service Executive (HSE) and in a spec ial care plac ement. Child 1 was admitted to the care of the HSE pursuant to an
Emergency Care Order made on the 11 May 2010 and Interim Care Orders which were extended until Child 1 was returned to her
mothers care in September 2010 which reunification broke down in November 2010 when Child 1 returned to c are. Child 1 was
returned to her fat her’s care in February 2011 until she returned to her mother’s care in April 2012 which arrangement broke down and
Child 1 returned to the c are of t he HSE in May 2012 and has remained in the c are of the HSE since that time and at this t ime is in
special ca re and detained in a Spec ial Care Unit.
2. Counsel for the mother, who is t he first named respondent, made preliminary arguments that as Child 1 is in spec ial care, the
application under sect ion 18 could not procee d as sec tion 18 stat es that ‘the c hild requires c are or protect ion which he is unlikely to
receive unless t he court makes an order under this sect ion’ and that w hile Child 1 is in special c are she is receiving ca re and
protect ion. I have determined that t he care and prote ction off ered by sec tion 18 is greater than t he protec tion afforded by special
care det ention and proceeded t o hear this matte r.
3. I am satisfied that both the mother, and father (who is the second named respondent) have bee n properly served with notice of
these proc eedings. The mother was represented in these proceedings by her barrister and solicitor. There was no appearance by or
an behalf of t he father in thes e proceedings.
4. I am satisfied that the [District given] has jurisdict ion to hear this applicat ion,
5. The views and interests of Child 1 were represented in these proc eedings by her Guardian Ad Litem. The Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)
indicated to the Court her support f or a Care Order in respect of the c hild and recommended such Order for the f ull duration. Child 1’s
wishes were directly expressed to me on 16 May 2013 when I met with Child 1 in the presence o f her GAL and when Child 1 clearly
expressed her wish to return to her mother’s c are.
6. On the day of hearing, the mother indicated t o the Court t hrough her legal representat ives her opposition to the making of a Care
Order in respect of Child 1 to a ge 18 and stat ed she wished t o have Child 1 returned to her c are.
7. I have heard the evidence of the Soc ial Worker allocat ed to t his case. She gave ev idence of t he reasons why a care order was
being sought for Child 1: because t he mother’s long history of mental health difficulties has diminished her capac ity t o care f or Child 1
and has negatively impacted on Child 1, bec ause the pat tern of physical violence Child 1 has experienced and witnesse d in the c are
of her parents, and bec ause there are conc erns for Child 1’s physical and emotional well being if she is returned t o her mothers care.
She outlined to t he Court the hist ory of Soc ial Work involvement with this family since 2009 and the soc ial work assessment of t his
case using the Framework for Assessment of Children in Need. She noted that t he mother did not engage with t he Parenting Capacity
Assessment. The social work assessment c oncluded that while the mother obviously loves Child 1 she has struggled to c are for Child 1
and this has negat ively impacte d on Child 1, and has resulted in Child 1 developing an antic ipatory anxiety disorder, has adversely
affec ted her emotional wellbeing, and has resulted in Child 1 self medicating. She c oncluded that the mother will not be able t o cope
with or manage Child 1’s behaviours and will struggle to parent Child 1 effec tively. She st ated that Child 1 needs the consistent care
of the HSE to age 18. She rec ognises the importance of Child 1’s relationship with her mother and that Child 1 will need to have
contac t with the mother on a regular basis.
8. I have also heard the evidence of two w orkers in the care fac ility where Child 1 stayed from 6 May 2012 to 15 July 2012. They
gave evidence of Child 1’s high levels of difficult behaviours and the c hallenges in caring for Child 1, her high levels of a bsconding from
the c are fac ility and her consequent risk-ta king behaviour and the posit ive and negative interac tions betwe en Child 1 and the mother.
They gave evidence t hat t he mother was instrumental as a point of c ontact w hen Child 1 absconded and the mother ofte n located
Child 1 and encourage her to return to the c are fac ility. They gave evidence of CCTV foot age of a physical alterc ation where the
mother restrained Child 1, and while acknowledging that t he mother believed she was preventing Child 1 from attending an organised
fight with ot her youths that this was not appropriate parenting by the mother to take and plac ed Child 1 in danger.
9. I have also heard the evidence of the mother who desc ribed a history of domestic violence by the f ather and the measures she
took to a ddress this problem, her own history of mental illness and depression which she a ttributed largely to t he loss of her
relationship with the fat her and the deat hs of her fat her and brother by suicide and the death of her mother. She acknowledged her
addiction to alcohol and her subsequent rec overy and management of her drinking. She also described the assistance she sought in
coping with t he mother, and in particular the negative impact Child 1’s placement with her fat her had on Child 1 in 2011/12. She
attributed Child 1 aggression, violent behaviours, and anger as resulting from this time in her fat hers care. T he mother admitted
physically restraining Child 1 outside t he care fa cility and also on bet ween five and s even other oc casions at home. The mother also
gave extensive ev idence of t he risk-taking behaviours of Child 1 during her time in care and particularly during her time at t he care
facility, inc luding an allegation that Child 1 was raped on an oc casion where she w as missing from the care f acility for 2 days, and
conc erns that Child 1 was t aking and dealing drugs while in care. She gav e evidence t hat she does not believe t he HSE can provide
adequate c are for Child 1. She also desc ribed how their relationship has improved in recent times.
10. I have also heard the e vidence of the uncle (t he mother’s brother), who lived with the mother and Child 1 as a t eenager for two

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