A TWO-and-a-half year old boy, for whose welfare Swindon Council is responsible, must stay in foster care while decisions are made about his future, a family court judge has ruled.

Judge Katharine Marshall questioned whether the boy was being adequately stimulated after a nurse said he “appeared to be unable to actually play”.

The nurse said the boy’s mother had told her that “she cannot be bothered to play” with the child and “only gets toys out when professionals visit”.

Judge Marshall also concluded the boy’s supervision and care had not been consistently adequate and he had been at risk of “physical and emotional” harm.

She said social workers had been justified in removing him from his parents’ care earlier this year and placing him into foster care.

Details of the case emerged in a written ruling by the judge after the hearing in Swindon.

Judge Marshall did not identify the family but said the council was responsible for his welfare.

She said the boy’s parents were happily married and “devoted, loving and committed parents”.

But she said both had health problems. The mother had been diagnosed as being on the “borderline of a mild learning disability” and the father as having a “cognitive impairment”.

The boy had been living with his parents under a local authority care plan. But social workers said that despite being given “extensive support”, the couple had not been able to consistently meet their son’s needs and they had placed him into foster care.

Judge Marshall refused to return the boy to his parents.

She said he must stay in foster care while further assessments of him and his parents take place.

“I find that the evidence supports a finding that the supervision and care of the boy has not been consistently adequate for him and has left him at risk, on occasions, of physical and emotional harm,” she said.

“I am also satisfied that there is sufficient evidence which the court can conclude that it is more likely than not that his need for adequate stimulation, given his age, is not currently being met consistently by his parents.

“I rely on the observations of the nurse and the health visitor who observed that he seems unable to play.

“The social worker and other professionals have impressed upon mother and father the need to play with him and read to him every day, play being something which mother acknowledges she finds difficult, and father being out of the house during the day is only able to provide at limited times.

“It will be a matter for further determination what the impact of this, if any, might be.”