The Child and Family Agency (CFA) TUSLA has obtained an interim care order for a baby girl it had taken steps to protect even while in her mother’s womb.
In the case, the CFA first secured an eight-day emergency care order for the then 12-week-old baby girl on August 29 last.
The emergency care order granted by a district court judge allowed the CFA remove the baby from the care of her natural mother.
The CFA moved to obtain the emergency care order and a subsequent interim care order after a Social Work department at a CFA ‘Parent and Child Unit’ stated that the mother and baby’s placement at the unit was no longer viable.
The Social Work department made its assessment after the 20-year-old mother left the unit without her baby girl only to return at a later stage one evening.
The CFA also made the application after staff at the unit stated that the mother had an adverse reaction to negative feedback from staff which resulted in staff forcing entrance into her room in order to confirm the safety of the baby.
The manager of the Parent and Child Unit told the court that the baby would be at risk if returned to the care of her mother, both around her basic care needs being met and also in terms of what she would experience.
The baby had lived at the Parent and Child unit from the age of six days old.
A number of weeks prior to the baby girl being born in June of this year, the CFA registered the then unborn baby on the CFA’s ‘Child Protection Notification System’.
In May of this year, the baby’s mother took part in a pre-birth Child Protection Case Conference where it was agreed with the CFA that the then unborn baby “was at risk in utero and would be subject to an ongoing risk of significant harm upon birth unless a child protection plan was put in place”.
The CFA then arranged for the mother to attend for residential assessment at the Parent and Child unit so as to assess her capacity to adequately provide for and protect her child.
IT was stated that if the mother did not agree with this, the CFA would take steps to obtain a care order with respect to the unborn baby.
According to a newly released written judgement from the three-judge Court of Appeal, the CFA had “very serious and significant concerns” about the mother’s mental health and welfare.
The mother had herself been in the care of the CFA between the ages of 13 and 18 due to risk-associated behaviours.
During that time, she was subject to secure care orders on a number of occasions. It was noted that the woman was a vulnerable individual and prone to putting herself in risky situations.
The mother was also the beneficiary of an aftercare programme in which she moved to what is known as ‘Intensive Community Programme Care’ and received a community support package.
The mother had unsuccessfully challenged the district court judge’s interim care order in the High Court in September.
Now dismissing the mother's appeal against the High Court ruling, the Court of Appeal stated that the Judge in the District Court who granted the interim care order did everything in her power to avoid injustice.