Redbridge social services to closely monitor toddler

Social services should closely monitor a two-year-old Redbridge girl who was found distressed and alone outside her home while her mother was “intoxicated”, a judge has ruled.

On Tuesday November 15 at East London Family Court, District Judge Scott Coupland, who has lifted some reporting restrictions that apply to all family court proceedings, approved an interim supervision order to “keep a close eye” on the toddler’s care.

The welfare of the young girl, who cannot be named, became a serious concern to social services in September this year when she was found naked and crying outside her mother’s home.

Since the start of the year, police have twice been called to reports of fights at the home and social services visits found it in a “very poor” state with a lack of food and no bedding in the toddler’s cot.

Judge Coupland told the court her welfare was his “paramount consideration” in making the order, which will require planned and unplanned visits from Redbridge Council’s social services, alcohol testing and an assisted parenting course.

He said: “[She] is only a young child, she is two years of age and clearly has no understanding of proceedings.

“What is clear is that she is abundantly a young child and requires all her needs to be attended to, including health, education, and in her case by going to nursery.”

Judge Coupland added that “on balance”, Redbridge Council supported the child staying with her mother, who is engaging with social services and taking her daughter to nursery every day.

Alongside the Family Court care proceedings, the mother has been referred to the Family Drug and Alcohol Court, a specialist scheme that aims to support parents whose substance abuse puts their children at risk.

In the past, the mother’s care of her older child has also been a concern to social services and the Family Court.

A lawyer representing the child’s court-appointed guardian, Georgia Mitropoulos, said that although the mother had “heavily engaged” with social services, more reassurance was needed.

She added: “It is the nature of the mother’s difficulties that when a relapse occurs, she tends to fall off a cliff.”

Ms Mitropoulos said Redbridge Council’s plan appeared “generic” and that the guardian would like the court to make a full supervision support plan, including daily testing for alcohol use.

“Nothing the guardian says diminishes the work that the mother has done so far,” she added.

“But the priority has to be [the child], the guardian needs to be assured and reassured that the mother hasn’t started drinking again and is able to be a mother.”

If you are concerned that a child may be at imminent risk, always call 999 immediately.

If you are worried about a child’s welfare, call the National Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children helpline on 0808 800 5000 or email help@NSPCC.org.uk

Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter