Research reveals family court recycles young mothers
At least one in four women will return to the family court, having previously lost a child through court order, and the chances of having a child removed increase to at least one in three for the youngest women who were teenagers at the birth of their first child, a recent survey has highlighted.
A team of researchers from the Nuffield Foundation and Lancaster University have noted a 'hidden population' of mothers caught up in a cycle of family court proceedings, with one child after another being removed from women's care.
The study uses electronic records held by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) and findings are based on all care applications made by Local Authorities in England over a seven year period from 2007 to 2014.
Commenting, head of childcare Stacy Fox, said: “It is a sad reality that many vulnerable young women end up in a cycle of having babies straight after the others, to replace them, and do not deal with the actual concerns that have led to the removals.
“It is really important that these mothers get legal advice at the earliest opportunity whilst pregnant to get advice on addressing the concerns and engaging in any pre-birth assessment,” said Stacy.
“Getting early legal representation means that there is often advance warning if there is a plan to remove the child and so preparation to oppose it can take place and there is time to consider other options, mother and baby units for example or at least family carers,” she advised.
It was found that many of the women had experienced very difficult childhoods themselves and were then severely emotionally damaged by the removal of their baby.
In addition, the number of infants removed at birth is increasing. The research team found more than 13,000 infants subject to legal proceedings at or close to birth (within 31 days) between 2007 and 2014.
The report highlights that once a first child has been removed, the next time around the child is likely to be removed from his or her mother's care closer to the birth and is much more likely to be adopted - meaning the mother will lose all direct contact with the child.
The research team warn that local authorities and family courts will continue to see a sizeable population of mothers reappear through the family courts.
For advice and guidance on childcare proceedings and family courts call 0161 783 3500
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