Fam­ily wants baby back with sib­lings

Stand­off over com­plex child case

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS - SIMEON THOMAS-WIL­SON

A TAS­MA­NIAN cou­ple is en­gaged in a stand­off with the state’s child pro­tec­tion ser­vices in a bid to care for their in­fant grand­child, even though they al­ready care for the child’s sib­lings.

The Mercury has been told of the months-long bat­tle be­tween the cou­ple and the depart­ment over their at­tempts to bring the in­fant into their home.

Be­fore the birth of the in­fant ear­lier this year, the mother of the chil­dren asked her fa­ther and his wife, both of whom have done emer­gency fos­ter­ing in the past, to take care of her chil­dren full-time.

The in­fant was ini­tially placed in the foster care sys­tem but then the grand­par­ents said they asked Child Safety Ser­vices for the in­fant to join its sib­lings in their house­hold.

But they said they had not been able to bring the child home.

“We’ve made sure ev­ery­thing is OK in an­tic­i­pa­tion that the baby would join us here,” the grand­fa­ther said. “We’ve asked nu­mer­ous times if the baby could join its sib­lings here but, ev­ery time, it seems that the goal­posts are shifted.

“The depart­ment re­cently said be­cause the chil­dren who came here are so sta­ble, they don’t want to desta­bilise them.”

The fam­ily can­not be iden­ti­fied for le­gal rea­sons.

The cou­ple said that, re­cently, a child psy­chol­o­gist was com­mis­sioned to come into the house to do an as­sess­ment.

“He asked us why wasn’t the baby here,” the grand­fa­ther said.

A re­port from the as­sess­ment is due to be com­pleted within the next six to eight months but any rec­om­men­da­tions will only be noted.

Se­nior State Gov­ern­ment staff have told the Mercury they are “mys­ti­fied” by the sit­u­a­tion.

Hu­man Ser­vices Min­is­ter Jac­quie Petrusma said she could not legally com­ment on any in­di­vid­ual child ser­vices or carer cases.

“All de­ci­sions re­gard­ing chil­dren in care are made with the child’s best in­ter­ests at heart,” she said.

A Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices spokesman said Child Safety Ser­vices al­ways worked with fam­i­lies to put ar­range­ments in place that were in the best in­ter­ests of the child.

The depart­ment said it could not, and would not, com­ment on in­di­vid­ual cases.

“In line with pri­vacy pro­tec­tions un­der the Act, the depart­ment can­not, and will not, com­ment on in­di­vid­ual mat­ters or cases or which, in any way, could iden­tify peo­ple,” the spokesman said.

“Where a child is re­quired to come into care un­der a Care and Pro­tec­tion Or­der, the Child Safety Ser­vice will al­ways work with fam­ily and put in place ar­range­ments that are in the best in­ter­ests of the child in the cir­cum­stances and con­tinue to re­view and ad­just those ar­range­ments to pro­mote the im­por­tance of fam­ily care where pos­si­ble.

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