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family courts series

Boy in State care set duvet on fire in the middle of the room while he was still in it

TheJournal.ie spent a week observing cases in the Family Court.

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This story is part of a series on the Family Court which can be viewed here>>

A CASE CAME before a judge involving a Traveller family where one of the children was in care. An interim care order was before the court in relation to the boy, but due to behavioural issues, there was concern about the placement.

Extra supports were put in place for the family. The family is in a residential home and a family assessment – as part of the parental capacity assessment – is taking place, the court heard.

The judge was told that the father had left one week into the assessment, but did return.

The father was told that he could not rejoin the family in the residential home as he had chosen to leave. The social worker said that this was a joint decision between the social work department and the residential home.

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The social worker for the boy told the court that he had a lot of emotional difficulties and was a “very anxious boy” which often manifested itself as physical pain in his stomach and chest.

Emotional over Dad’s drinking

She told the court that he was very anxious when his father left the home as he knew he had been drinking. “He was very upset as he knows that his Dad could die as a result,” she said.

She said that he had been engaging with the specialist child mental health services.

Speaking about the boy, another social worker said as he is the eldest he worries a lot about his other siblings and whether they will be taken into care.

“He finds it very stressful as he knows his Dad will die if he continues drinking,” she said, adding that he visits his family in the residential home once a week.

The court was told that the facility in which the boy is staying is under threat due to his behavioural difficulties, which are tough for the team to handle, the court was told.

Lit duvet on fire

There are concerns for the boy’s mental health as he has gone missing from the home he was staying on occasion and was also self harming. “He lit his duvet on fire in the middle of the room while he was still in it,” said the social worker.

They added that the boy seems to put his family problems simply down to a housing issue, with social workers saying that “he wants to return home when possible”.

The court was told that another option of him living with a relative was also being explored.

The Child and Family Agency (CFA) said it believed the boy should remain in the residential home he is staying and that a full package of supports be given to him to ensure that he stays there.

The social worker said that the family assessment taking place is “very important” as the “emotional scaffolding” will be needed to support the children, said the social worker.

The court was told that the mother was very co-operative.

The judge said that it “is in the best interests of the child to extend the interim care order until the assessments have been done and then continue on with the existing directions”.

‘A Week in the Family Courts’ series will be running all this week on TheJournal.ie. 

Read: A Week in the Family Court: ‘There needs to be intervention before we reach crisis point’>

Read: A Week in the Family Court: 6,500 children are in care – here are some of their stories>

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