A young brother and sister should remain with their parents despite the latter’s struggles with alcohol, a family court judge has ruled.
The siblings in question are aged six and four. Social workers from Kent County Council had become increasingly concerned by the parents’ drinking and mental health problems. The father was also reportedly prone to aggression and neither he nor the mother had shown much inclination to listen to the social workers or their concerns, an attitude typically referred to in such cases as a “lack of engagement” and lack of “insight”.
The family had first come to the attention of Kent County Council when the father was arrested for drink-driving with the two children in the car with him. He was convicted and received a suspended jail sentence but was caught driving under the influence again later the same month. That time the children were not with him, however
At the family court in Medway,. Her Honour Judge Lazarus explained:
“The police, when they attended the family home after that incident, found both parents intoxicated and it became clear that alcohol was a very significant problem within this family home.”
Not long afterwards, another social worker discovered the mother looking after the children “while intoxicated through alcohol”, while the father was visiting the doctor also in a “heavily intoxicated” state.
Within days an agreement was put in place forbidding the parents from looking after their children without supervision from family and friends. This was followed by a succession of similar arrangements but the mother repeatedly attempted to breach these.
Meanwhile, psychiatrists diagnosed the father with post-traumatic stress disorderand alcoholism and he began a course of therapy. The mother also began treatment for her own alcohol addiction. Recent tests have found her sober, explained the Judge.
“I am delighted to read that those tests have come out negative, in the sense that they have not shown any untoward substances use by the mother. Her care of the children continues to be good enough and that has been noted and commended by the professionals in the case.”
Judge Lazarus continued:
“…I say from the outset that it is clear that these parents have, since those concerns crystallised and leading to the start of these proceedings, respectively taken enormous strides, for which this court is very grateful on behalf of the children.”
She ordered that the family should remain under the close supervision of social workers for a period of 12 months.
Read Kent County Council v Z here.
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