Are we failing parents whose children are taken into care?
Social services can remove child after child from the same mother, without her being offered the help she needs to become a good-enough parent. The result is heartbreak, and very expensive – but now judges are calling for a new approach.
It is now well understood that women whose children are taken from them by social services will frequently keep having babies to replace those they have lost. Subsequent babies are often each removed at birth. Some women have had four, five, six and more children removed; infants can be subject to interim care orders and removed from their mothers from the moment they are born. Some family solicitors and barristers report dealing with cases involving babies eight, nine and 10.
Wildblood describes a process whereby, time and again, reports are produced during care proceedings saying that a parent needs therapy, but that “the beneficial effect of therapy would be ‘outwith the timescales for the child’. In this case for instance, Wildblood says, it would have been perfectly obvious to all that, when the mother was referred before birth, she was a prime candidate for therapy.
There is now increasing concern in the courts that parents’ mental health and emotional needs should be addressed as a priority: Wildblood makes clear his determination to encourage much earlier therapeutic intervention.