Stopping the cycle of successive children being taken into care

Senior practitioner Kym Hackett argues there needs to be more attention paid to the reasons women continue having children when they have had others removed

Adult and child shadow
Picture credit: Gary Brigden

Far too often, when we hear of women having children removed and taken into care, they are labelled as “bad mothers”, “neglectful” or even “abusive”.

It is estimated that it costs over £80,000 to take a child into care but what about the human cost?

When a child is removed from their mother’s care she is told her parenting isn’t ‘good enough’ or her lifestyle is ‘dangerous’, but nobody actually helps her come to terms with her loss.

She is left to deal with her own grief and resentment the best way she can. So it should really come as no surprise when, in many cases, the cycle continues.

Mpower is a pilot project set up in November 2012 by Ormiston Children and Families Trust, a children’s charity based in the East of England.

It was aimed at supporting a marginalised group of mothers in Ipswich who were caught in a cycle of having successive children taken into care.

We help them to make positive changes in the way they live their lives. We examine why they decided to have more chidren despite the pain and trauma of having lost elder children to the care system.

By building a trusting, empathic relationship with our service users, installing structure, and offering commitment, we are seeing positive results.

The project has been running for a year and none of the service users have become pregnant during this period.

By working intensively with this small group of women we are able to offer them support and understanding to help them make sense of their situation. This enables them to look constructively at their current lifestyle and empowers them to move towards a meaningful future.

In my opinion this is key early intervention work where the impact is measurable and the outcomes are tangible.

Kym Hackett is senior practitioner with Ormiston Children & Families Trust. She will be speaking in more detail about the Mpower project at Community Care Live Children and Families on 14 November in London.

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