TWO girls who were infested with head lice and taken into care over severe neglect were among several harrowing cases in the latest volume of reports from the Child Care Law Reporting Project.
The District Court heard that the lice were so bad on one of the girls that it looked like the child's whole head was moving.
"I could see spider-like creatures moving, I could see hundreds of them moving down her neck," her school principal said, adding that she had an inch-long scab on the back of her neck.
"She was very aware that she was not the way she should be, she was very embarrassed. I tired to reassure her."
Other children avoided her at school, the principal said, adding that her older sister - whose head lice was not so bad - was also socially isolated and tried to look after her younger sibling.
The court was told that the girls' mother was a heroin addict who attended a methadone clinic since the late 90s.
Their father did not attend the hearing but consented to a full care order for the girls.
In another case, three children in their early and mid-teens escaped from their home and sought help.
The children, who were home-schooled and not allowed leave their home, experienced emotional and physical abuse.
Their father rarely visited them and there were allegations of sexual abuse against their mother.
She herself spent most of her time in her room and used a bucket as a toilet, which her son had to empty.
She beat an older child - who previously left the family home - telling the other children that she was "beating the white devil" out of her.
The three other children escaped the house and sought help from a neighbour who called gardai. There was no answer when officers went to their home but the mother later visited the station and was irate and abusive with no apparent interest in the children's welfare, gardai told the court.
A sergeant later visited the house and it emerged that the mother had been before the courts 16 times before 2000 for non-attendance at school by some of her children.
Their father failed to be a protective factor and did not propose that the children live with him and a full care order was granted for the three children.
A separate hearing was told of the case of two children who had been in care since birth who were returned to their parents.
The two children were born in Ireland after their parents arrived here from another jurisdiction where two of their other children had been taken into care after the alleged sex abuse of one of them. The parents had denied involvement in the abuse.
The court heard that the HSE had failed to call evidence from the other jurisdiction prior to taking the two children into care.
The judge granted a supervision order for a year and the children are to be returned gradually with the support of professionals.