What you need to know
Many birth relatives are acutely vulnerable with complex difficulties, in need of support in their own right. Parents may go on to have more children. Where the plan is for long-term care, offering positive support at the time of the final hearing and in the longer term is an investment in the future.
At a national scale, it is recognised there is a significant proportion of cases in the family courts where mothers have had successive children removed from their care.
It is good practice to demonstrate work with families who are unable to meet the needs of their child/ children and decisions are made for the child to be removed from their care. Any planned post proceedings work can be added to the final statement, allowing the court and the parties to see that the local authority recognises the need for further services to prevent repeated statutory cases.
It is hard for families in care proceedings to work positively with child care social workers because of the adversarial nature of proceedings. Families should be encouraged to make use of independent support services.
Widespread and consistent provision of empathic, multi-agency and therapeutic professional help and access to appropriate services and interventions can help ‘break the cycle of repeat removals’.
Post proceedings work with family can also make post- adoption contact with birth families possible and a positive experience for adopters, children and birth families. It is important to recognise the role of kinship networks in maintaining the child’s sense of identity. All children and birth families need support in addressing issues of separation, attachment and loss (Boddy et al, 2013)
Available programmes include the Pause Project, working with women who have experienced, or are at risk of, repeat removals of children from their care. The first Pause pilot was in Hackney, and has since expanded to other local authorities.