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Most parents in child care court cases are not married and raising children alone

That’s according to a report launched by the Child Care Law Reporting Project.

Image: child eyes via Shutterstock

A FAMILY COURT to handle child care orders is needed as soon as possible, according to the second Interim Report from the Child Care Law Reporting Project.

The report examined 486 cases from September of last year until July 2014. The cases involved 864 children – just over 20% of all children in court-ordered care.

It found that nearly one in three of the children involved had special needs while one in four cases involved a parent from an ethnic minority.

It also discovered that the vast majority of parents were single or separated and parenting alone – 90% of parents were unmarried and one in 6 suffer from cognitive or mental disability.

The Director of the report, Carol Coulter, says the cases are not given the attention they need or deserve in most Irish courts.

She pointed out that in most courts outside Dublin child care cases are heard on the general family law day, when there can be up to 70 or 80 cases on the list.

In one case the judge refused long-term care orders for a number of children, granting short orders instead and saying he would give the younger children back to the mother, despite the fact that a doctor gave compelling evidence of severe physical abuse.

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“But the courts alone are not the answer to the problems of vulnerable families. Society as a whole must take responsibility for supporting them so that taking children into care is a last resort – albeit one that is necessary in certain circumstances.”

Coulter added that, “The disproportionate representation of non-Irish parents in the child care courts makes an urgent case for a renewed focus on integration policies, ensuring that those coming to our shores understand what is expected of them as parents.”

Read: Parents agree to allow disabled children stay in care>

Read: Five children taken into care after abuse allegations>

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