A social worker and child guardian have been praised for a “careful and comprehensive” analysis of the options available for an eight-year-old boy who was placed in care.
Judge Baker described the work of the two social workers as a “commendable and comprehensive analysis of the various options” in a case he described as “tortuous” due to the almost two years it took.
The boy, referred to as H, moved to England from Lithuania with his mother in 2013. The local authority suspected that they were both victims of people trafficking.
H was given a place at school, but his attendance was erratic and school staff had growing concerns about the mother’s behaviour. She was observed to be drunk on a number of occasions when looking after H.
In November 2013 H was placed in a section 20 arrangement, and has not lived with his mother since.
During proceedings, under Article 15 of Brussels II Revised – which needs to be considered in cases involving children from other countries in the European Union to decide whether the court in England has jurisdiction – Judge Baker transferred jurisdiction to Lithuania. A Lithuanian court accepted this but then closed the case.
The local authority then made a second application for care proceedings, where Baker decided that the court in England did have jurisdiction, and subsequently ruled that the child be placed in care of the local authority. He should have contact with his mother 10 to 12 times a year.
Analysis from the social worker showed the child had a good relationship with foster carers in a “warm, loving environment with very clear boundaries”.
“Although the full details of his past life are unclear, there is sufficient information available to conclude that he has suffered years of upheaval, uncertainty and neglect and occasionally abuse,” the judge said.
“I accept and adopt the careful and comprehensive analysis of the local authority social worker and guardian as summarised,” he added.
He said that the authority had to ensure H received therapy for the emotional harm he had suffered, and that “careful thought” be given to his cultural needs.