Thousands of mothers have successive children taken into care
In the past seven years there have been thousands of mothers who have had multiple children taken into care due to their inability to look after them, according to a new report.
The University of Manchester and Brunel have carried out a research which showed 7,143 women being involved in these successive court cases and 22,790 children been affected. This research was funded by Nuffield Foundation and it is the first time statistics of this kind have been available.
The figures suggest many women are stuck in a damaging cycle of jumping from pregnancy to care litigation with little time to manage their life.
Most mothers involved in these cases very often misuse drink and drugs, rendering them incapable of looking after an infant.
A pattern in the ages of these women has also been observed, with over half being under the age of 24 when their first baby was taken into care.
Dr Karen Broadhurst, lead researcher at the University of Manchester, told the BBC: “There needs to be a new approach from Family Courts, making sure these women get the support they need in order to break these destructive habits and be capable of looking after their child.”
There are several organisations that provide a more innovative approach, one of these is the Strengthening Families Project, run by Salford Council.
They run workshops in health centres advising pregnant mothers of the risks of alcohol and drug abuse to their unborn babies. Their approach is direct and the results so far have been encouraging.
An even longer running project is the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC), which was set up in 2008 by a retired family court judge Nicolas Crichton.
The FDAC has its own doctors, social workers and addiction specialists. The organisation is a success and has so far helped 35% of mothers to reunite with their children compared with 19% by family courts.
Mr Crichton believes these projects are essential and need to be expanded. Commenting on the new report he said: “The emotional cost to those families, and to their children, is immense but the financial cost to the taxpayer is immense as well and we really have to find a different way of dealing with these cases.”