'Imperative' decision is made on teen's special care placement, court hears
Posted on 1st March 2022 at 22:48
Boy is said to be ‘out of control’ and being pulled into a lifestyle of violence and crime
Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has allegedly deferred making a decision on whether an at-risk teenager should be placed in special care, the High Court has heard.
The boy, who cannot be identified, has been in the care of the agency practically all his life and has a “complex care history”, according to documents before the court. He was described as someone currently “completely out of control” who is being pulled into a lifestyle of violence and crime.
His court-appointed guardian ad litem secured permission on Tuesday to progress the judicial review as the boy’s next friend.
Natalie McDonnell BL, for the guardian, told the court the boy had been deemed several weeks ago by the agency’s national Special Care Referrals Committee to have met the criteria to be placed in a special care unit.
Despite this, no further steps have been taken since to bring the teen closer to accessing special care, she said. This is because the agency has said there are no vacancies in special care at the moment, said Ms McDonnell.
She said the facts of this case fit squarely with a 2019 court ruling which found it was unlawful for the agency to defer progressing a special care determination until a vacancy is available.
In legal documents, the guardian says she is “extremely concerned” for the boy’s safety and welfare and agrees with the assessment that he meets the criteria for special care.
It is “imperative” that a determination is made, as mandated by the Child Care Act 1991, she said.
In her proceedings, the guardian seeks orders quashing the agency’s decisions to defer its duty to comply with the provisions of the 1991 act in respect of the teen pending a placement at a special care facility becoming available for him. She also wants an order directing Tusla to make an application for an order that would place the boy in special care.
Further, she seeks various declarations, including that the agency has failed in its duty to provide care and accommodation to the boy in accordance with its statutory duties.
Mr Justice Charles Meenan granted leave on an ex-parte basis (only one side was represented in court) and directed that Tusla be notified of the action. He adjourned the matter for a week.
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