A number of mothers are repeat respondents in recurrent care proceedings as they have had children removed from their care in previous proceedings.
Children on the “edge of care" are those who are at risk of being removed from families and placed in the care system.
The lifetime impact of care proceedings on children cannot be underestimated. Children entering the care system face disruption to their education, have difficulties forming relationships as adults, and risk repeated transitions in and out of foster care which causes further disruption.
As a result, more attention has been paid to interventions that prevent children from going into care in the first place. But this must also be balanced with the risks that can come from keeping a child with their birth family.
The University of Essex has evaluated a number of these services so far:
Working in conjunction with Research in Practice and Lancaster University’s Centre for Child and Family Justice Research (CCFJC), the University of Essex team has advised 11 further local authorities in England seeking to develop or extend services to reduce recurrent care proceedings (Research in Practice, 2018).
Most recently, the team have supported the development of a new ‘Supporting Parents’ Community of Practice facilitated by Research in Practice and the CCFJC, funded by Public Health England.
The team edited a Special Issue of Societies in 2021 presenting insights from new interdisciplinary research in the family justice field. The contributors work across a number of disciplines, drawing on theoretical perspectives from sociology, social work, law, politics, psychiatry and psychology. In addition, they all have experience with applied and action research in these fields in the United Kingdom. The full special issue is available through Open Access.
One of the articles in the special issue reported on the core values, practice and impact of three different local services in the northwest of England working with birth parents to reduce the risk of recurrent proceedings.
The article combines data gathered from the three distinct services using a common evaluation framework co-produced by the authors working with service leads, practitioners and users. It explores how all three services are seeking to reduce the risk of recurrent care proceedings in their local areas without requiring women to use long acting reversible contraception (LARC) or other forms of contraception as a condition of accessing the service. It is also available through Open Access.