Girl at risk of being institutionalised, court hears

A primary school-aged girl who exhibits violent and challenging behaviour, and lives in a residential care unit, has not been schooled since February and is at risk of being “institutionalised”, Cork District Court was told yesterday.
Girl at risk of being institutionalised, court hears

During the in-camera, childcare proceedings, a solicitor for the girl’s mother argued that her behaviour had escalated since she was removed from the care of her grandmother in February. She requested that the court return the child to the grandmother’s care as per the mother and grandmother’s requests.

The solicitor said the girl is sometimes restrained by two adults several times a day, and was until recently alone in the placement.

“There was no other children in this placement, there is no school, she [the girl] is interacting with two adults and no one else. She has telephone access with her mother and her granny. I am concerned she is at risk of becoming institutionalised,” the solicitor said.

However, the child’s social worker said the girl’s behaviour was such that it could not be managed by her grandmother.

“Before she was taken into residential care — which is ... serious for a child her age — her behaviour had escalated dramatically,” the social worker said.

The social worker said the girl had been violent and threatening at school and had jumped out a window.

The court heard the girl had caused injury to staff members in residential care.

The mother’s solicitor asked the social worker what certain kinds of restraint meant, for example “prone restraint” and “small child restraint”.

“This is a [girl] with two adults restraining her, sometimes several times a day... There is no school, she is in bed half the day.”

The solicitor questioned the adequacy of the placement, which is in Leinster, and said the child needed to know what the plan for her future was, and how long she would be kept there.

The child and family agency Tusla’s counsel said that home tuition was “coming shortly” for the girl.

Judge Con O’Leary said it was “out of the question” that the child be returned to her grandmother.

He said it should be explained to the girl’s mother in a “reflective atmosphere” why her child was being restrained and how the restraints occur so that she better understands what is happening.

Judge O’Leary questioned why the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services was not playing a more active role in the case.

He was told that the child had not been diag-nosed with any classified clinical mental health problem.

The case was adjourned until the end of November in order that a child-in-care review can be held and that issues of learning and socialisation be addressed.

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