A judge gazed at a family photo attached to one of the many files clogging the bench at the Child Care Court.
Holding it up, the judge remarked: “Absolutely gorgeous children.
“It’s lovely to see such a beautiful photograph taken of happy children, the children we try to care for every day in this court.”
The court had just been told of the remarkable new life a group of brothers and sisters had found with a foster family.
A brutal father had waged a reign of violence and fear before they were rescued and put into long-term foster care.
A court-appointed independent social worker who provides regular progress reports on the children told the judge she had to break the news to the children of the passing of their father.
One child responded it was the best news they had heard as they feared he would return again into their lives.
The court had previously granted a Section 18 care order to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. It means the children will remain in foster care until they reach the age of 18.
The social worker said: “They now have a happy and beautiful life and very involved in the community. The foster home is a hive of education and all the children are doing very well at school and their health is very good. They are really happy children and getting on with their lives.”
Filing away the report, the judge said: “I wish them a happy life and all the best.”
Meanwhile, a second case involved what was described as a “chaotic” drug-addicted couple. A solicitor for Tusla applied for a 28-day interim care order, to see what could be done to improve the lives of the couple’s four young children.
A court-appointed counsel for the couple said there was no objection to the Tusla application.
A team leader, a social worker, told how the children had been put into care in recent days after the mother was found unresponsive having taken drugs.
Previously, she and the children had to take refuge in a women’s centre after her husband thrashed the family home. The authorities had received an anonymous report the drugs the couple used included heroin, but this had not been clarified.
The social worker said the husband subjects his wife to physical, emotional and financial abuse. “There are complicating factors,” the witness said.
The children were displaying a high level of emotional distress and an interim order was needed to see what the best course of action was. They were trying to put a plan of care in place for the children, the court heard.
The court-appointed counsel said the mother was prepared to take part in toxicology screening whereby she would be tested without notice for drugs.
“They agree to the interim order as they feel they need the 28 days to try and work things out,” it was stated.
The husband, it was stated, had been found with drugs in prison.
The judge agreed to the interim care order, saying it was a chaotic family situation.
The judge also said when the case comes back before the court, the court would have to be satisfied before the children are allowed back into the care of the couple that a stable home is bring provided, consistent with all the needs of the children. The judge found a report on one of the children particularly disturbing and this was consistent with the stress the children had been exposed to.
The judge said an allegation by the mother she was given tablets by a worker at a women’s refuge should be investigated.
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