Mothers who lose children through care proceedings offered little support, report says

Research published by the British Journal of Social Work showed one in four women who have had children involved in care cases will end up being subject to further care proceedings

The family justice system expects parents who lose their children in care proceedings to undergo ‘natural recovery’, rather than benefit from any meaningful support.

That is one of the messages from a report published today on the impact of care proceedings on birth mothers and their children.

The research, ‘Birth Mothers and their Children in Recurrent Care Proceedings in England’ published in the British Journal of Social Work, estimated that at least one in four women who have had children involved in care cases will end up being subject to further family court proceedings. This rises to one in three for mothers who first go through proceedings from the ages of 16 to 19.

“For the majority of repeat clients, they will return within a short space of time ([average] interval is 17 months), typically following the birth of a new infant,” the report said.

It concluded: “Repeat clienthood is an enduring and routine feature of the family court.”

Born into care

Researchers used national records held by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), and the BBC reported how findings in the research also showed a “huge” rise in the number of babies involved in care proceedings, from 802 in 2008 to 2,018 in 2013.

The report found how a “sizeable percentage” of infants are effectively born into care after being subject to proceedings at, or close to, birth. Nearly 8,300 mothers had proceedings begin when their child was less than a month old, and for three-fifths of these mothers this happened again in a first repeat episode of legal intervention.

The findings should prompt questions about local authority and family court obligations to women who go through care proceedings, the report said.

“In England there is no statutory mandate regarding the provision of tailored rehabilitative support to parents following child removal. This in spite of the fact that specific recommendations for parents’ rehabilitation are frequently set out during care proceedings, typically indicating a programme of work that will endure long beyond the conclusion of care proceedings,” it said.


The proportion of mothers whose children were placed for adoption increased the more times care proceedings repeated, the research found. Adoption of children was the outcome for just over one in four mothers from their first experience of care proceedings, but this rose to half if the mother was involved two more times. Since Cafcass does not record child placement data, researchers inferred the most likely permanency outcomes from the legal orders made.

“This pattern suggests that over the course of successive proceedings, adoption becomes the preferred permanence option for local authorities and the family court,” the report said.

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4 Responses to Mothers who lose children through care proceedings offered little support, report says

  1. Belinda Langley December 14, 2015 at 9:52 pm #

    Birth Families are given NO support from SS. Almost all support has to be self funded and is not cheap. Unavailable for free in almost all cases but if the parents almost exclusively the mother because the father is seen as irrelevant, a magic wand sends all their cares away after six sessions! It’s a complete joke as far as SS are concerned.

    • kelvin lord December 15, 2015 at 7:27 pm #

      sounds like belindas got her facts right

  2. FosterCarer 1964 December 15, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

    I think I’ve lost the plot on this one… Not sure what side to be on with this article. Is it yet another trendy poke at Social Services or is it support for Parents who abuse or neglect children?
    I’ve cared for Children because they were placed in Care following years of abuse and in each case there was enough evidence for a judge to have the children taken out of danger and placed with my Family but not it would seem to prosecute the abusers and lock them up.
    One 8-year-old child lost 6 siblings when the family were separated because of drug and alcohol abuse. Those Children lost their home, School, friends, family and Mother and she continued to have more babies and continued using drugs and alcohol. I saw the impact of her behaviour on our Fostered Child. It’s hard for the children when they see more and more of their siblings disappearing into the Care System.
    I don’t understand why the abusers plight in this article is scandal-worthy when for me the scandal is that the victims have been replaced by the perpetrators..
    I realise some parents have been victim of crazy decisions in the past but this article doesn’t speak of that. I think some families might have stayed together and thrived if some support packages had been around for them. I’m not saying failure-to-protect or drug and alcohol problems aren’t serious but experience tells me that many children are in care because of domestic violence which I agree needs better support to keep families together.
    If the perpetrators of Domestic violence were dealt with properly less children would lose their Mothers and end up in care. I’m waiting for the next article entitled “not enough support for the perpetrators of domestic violence after losing their partner”.

  3. Ellouise December 21, 2015 at 7:58 pm #

    I’ve read the article, and the responses. I’ve also lived it first hand. In 1998, I was 22, I had just split with my husband, the father of all 3 of my children, ages 1,2 & 3 years old. It was a very difficult time for me. Yet I struggled through, with little family support, and little money, I was the best parent I could be. But I suffered from post natal depression that had not been diagnosed. The “baby blues” I had with my 3rd child, just never went away, like it did with my first 2 children. I think the breakdown of my marriage contributed to that too. I asked social services for help. Temporary respite care 1 weekend out of every 6, would have helped me get back on track. Instead, my social worker provoked me after I asked for help, and they had my children in their care. So I snapped and slapped her. I know violence is wrong, I’m not a violent person, but the sw really brought out the worst in me. She would criticise me as a mother, make demands of me that were just too unreasonable, and pick holes in me. She was old and hagged, I was young and attractive. I think she may have been jealous of my youth, while she was clearly, past it. Not to be mean, it’s just the way I see it, she lied about how I treated my children, etc etc, and her position of power and authority, I couldn’t defend myself. I lost all 3 children. I haven’t seen them from that day to this. 4 years later, I had another baby. I was ready, and happy to be a mum again. Social services spent my entire pregnancy plotting and planning behind my back. They didn’t assess me, write to me, visit me or telephone me. They showed up in the room I gave birth in, 2 hours after she was born, and took her from the hospital, in the middle of the night, and didn’t tell me until after she was already gone, with an invalid court order. That was in Nov 2001. I haven’t seen her since. In 2005, I gave birth to a healthy boy. He’s still with me. We were placed in an assessment centre for 12 weeks, 40 miles away from my home, family and friends. I passed my assessment. My son is nearly 11, he’s healthy and happy, he wishes for nothing, he has everything. Including a mama who adores him. He’s never been allowed to meet his older siblings. In court, all 4 of my first children were force adopted, my consent to adoption was dispensed with. I was nothing but an invisible baby making machine. An unpaid surrogate mother for some couple who God didn’t see fit to bless with children. And after? I was left to get on with it. Pick up the pieces of my life and put them back together alone. With no help. No support. No councelling. To be crude, I felt used, like a cheap f***. ” wham bam, thankyou mam.” And yet, years on, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink and my son ( as well as my older children) has never suffered any harm in my care. The police arrested me for the original social workers allegations, but surprise surprise, all charges against me were dropped. Lack of evidence proves evidence of absence. Yet I never got even one of my children back. Tell me, how is any of it right? I could have killed myself, killed someone else, and ss would never take credit for that. Instead, I spent many years becoming the person that they said I wasn’t capable of being. Proving their allegations and lies wrong every step of the way. And I will never allow them to take credit for that. As a child, I was abused. Ss left me there to rot. I have an issue with trusting them. And fair play to me.