A significant percentage of mothers who repeatedly lose children to the care system for adoption are care leavers themselves, new research suggests.
In a study which has now been published under the title Vulnerable Mother and Recurrent Care Proceedings, a team of researchers from Lancaster University examined the life histories of 354 young mothers living in 52 legal authority regions. Between them the mothers had appeared in a 851 care cases. This information was boosted with general population data and personal interviews with 72 women.
They discovered that 40 per cent of the mothers involved in multiple care proceedings had themselves been in care homes or foster care. More than 53 per cent of the women had been sexually abused as children and 64 per cent had become mothers while still teenagers and struggled as a result, with little professional or family support. Many of the young mothers also had emotional problems as a result of traumatic childhoods.
In the majority of cases (60 per cent), the children had been taken away by social workers immediately after birth.
The Nuffield Foundation funded the research. Director of Justice and Welfare Teresa Williams said:
“This innovative study has for the first time revealed the extent of recurrent care proceedings and highlighted the experience of women who have had successive children removed from their care.”
“Although there is much more that needs to be done, the positive reaction to this study within the family justice system demonstrates how population data combined with research evidence can be the catalyst for change that will ultimately mean fewer women and children suffer.”