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Care order

Drug and alcohol abuse leading to care proceedings for children

The latest report on child care law shows that the Child & Family Agency failed in its applications for care orders in three cases.

DRUG AND ALCOHOL abuse, mental illness and social isolation are the main causes leading to care proceedings, according to the latest reports by the Child Care Law Reporting Project.

A case in which both parents had drug issues heard how the couple moved to Ireland after their older child was taken into care in another jurisdiction.

The couple then fled Ireland when they had a second baby here and learned that this baby was also likely to be taken into care.

The Child and Family Agency (CFA), which has taken over the HSE’s child welfare functions, obtained a care order for the young baby after 18 months of renewals of interim care orders in Dublin District Court.

The parents were attending a drug treatment centre and were on methadone. The doctor described them as “in the top 10 to 15 per cent of those attending in terms of controlling their drug use”.

Following about a year of renewals of interim care orders, during which the parents had access to their baby five days a week, an application was heard for a full care order.

By now the parents had moved back to the other jurisdiction and did not participate in the proceedings.

A social worker from the other jurisdiction gave evidence of the circumstances leading to the first baby going into care.

He had been found in very unsanitary conditions, extremely dirty and hungry, with dark shadows under his eyes.

The parents were seriously involved in drug abuse at the time and there was also reports of domestic violence.

A clinical psychologist gave evidence that the father had a personality disorder and was the dominant member of the couple.

The mother adored her child, but carried deep emotional wounds from her own background and she had not had an opportunity to develop the normal skills of adult living.

“If she got out of the relationship and found someone she could work with she could do very well”.

The judge granted the care order until the baby was 18 and asked for a plan for the baby to be brought to court in two weeks’ time.

Care Orders

The reports are available online at

They show that when the CFA seeks a care order, it’s by no means inevitable that it will be granted by the courts.

There were four cases where the children were reunited with their parents after a period in care, where the issues which led to them being brought into care were addressed.

The Child Care Law Reporting Project said that,

The chaos in the lives of some families which leads to them coming to the attention of the social services is revealed in the fact that one hearing was interrupted three times by the collapse and hospitalisation of the father during the proceedings, followed by the collapse and recovery of the mother, only for her to collapse again.

“The pressure on family law courts, especially outside of Dublin, is revealed by the fact that there were 60 cases on the list in one “family law day” in a rural town”.

Read: Legislation published to place ‘duty’ on Child and Family Agency to provide aftercare>

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