More Babies Removed From Mothers' Care

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A report published by the University of Lancaster has found 2018 new born babies were subject to care proceeding in 2013. That is a huge rise from 802 in 2008. Today, BBC News commented on a young mother named Louise who's now part of the Pause project in Doncaster, a scheme which helps women break the cycle of court proceedings and further pregnancies.Greg Moss, Partner in our Bristol Family Law Team and current care practitioner tells us more:

"This is a desperately sad situation with which all of the lawyers in our care team are all too familiar. The “Pause” initiative is one of several similar schemes across the country which have grown out of a developing awareness of the scale of the problem."

Huge rise in newborn babies subject to care proceedings

"A young parent who has a child removed from her care is bound to experience a deep sense of grief, loss and longing. This frequently translates into an understandable  desire to “replace” the lost child as quickly as possible and to try to “get it right” next time round.""

"However, if the parent has not been able to address the underlying issues that led to the first child being removed she is inevitably likely to find herself facing identical court proceedings with the next child. For many of these parents the self-destructive behaviours (such as substance abuse), that have led to the loss of their child to the care system often have their roots in abuse and trauma experienced in their own childhoods."

Care proceedings

"Social workers and psychologists who assess the parent during the course of proceedings are likely to advise the court that without extensive therapy, which would take many months, the parent cannot safely parent their child. Even if the therapy were available (and generally it is not) the court is under pressure to reach a decision about the child within 26 weeks, which is rarely going to  give the parent enough time to make the changes needed."

"Inevitably, the repeated removal of much loved children from their care adds yet further layers of trauma which, in turn, are often reflected in even more destructive behaviours."

"Everyone involved in the system is aware of the need to ensure that parents who are caught in this depressing pattern are provided with every possible support to “break the cycle”. Advice about contraception, and targeted psychological intervention, such as counselling or psychotherapy, are both key. Frustratingly, with health budgets slashed and services often available only to those in “crisis”, it is hard for parents to access the sort of support that is required. Even if they are eligible for help there are often long waiting lists."

"The flip side of the coin is that court proceedings, and the subsequent cost to the state of looking after a child in the care system, run into tens of thousands of pounds. Add to that the social costs of this avoidable breakdown in family structures and it becomes clear that investment in programs such as “Pause” is likely to bring huge financial and social rewards.  At the moment, while there is growing recognition of the scale of the problem, effective programs to address it across the country seem to be patchy. While we very much welcome the Pause program, and other similar local initiatives it seems that what is required is a national strategy which prioritises “prevention”, in the form of early intervention, over the all too damaging “cure” of court proceedings."


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