Maintaining links between parents and their children
Those working with parents who have experienced recurrent care proceedings find that supporting those parents in maintaining good quality contact with the children separated from them is a key part of the work they do with parents. Research has also demonstrated how important the status of parenthood is to parents who have lost their children to care or adoption.
The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory published a number of helpful reports about contact in 2020. The messages from the research will be relevant for those working with parents and providing the support they need to make sure the contact is enjoyable and of good quality. The reports available are:
- This short briefing contains the key messages from the research. (Length: 8-minute read).
- An evidence review synthesising findings from 49 national and international studies on contact, with a focus on what is known about the implications of contact for the wellbeing of children and young people who have been separated from their birth parents.
- A rapid evidence review that examined what is known about the implications of digital contact on the wellbeing of children who have been separated from their birth relatives. The review was commissioned following the implementation of social distancing measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the UK in March 2020.
- A rapid research project carried out after the first lockdown in March 2020 to try to urgently understand what means agencies were putting in place to support children to keep in touch with their birth families, and how this was working – especially for children.
Supporting mothers with farewell contact sessions
Karen Egan and Fiona Williams from Reflect, Positive Steps in Swansea talk about how they support mothers with farewell contact sessions when their children are going to be adopted. (Length: 20 minutes).
- Pause has produced a report, Knowing they’re OK (2020), which sets out a vision for a system of contact in which contact arrangements are positive experiences, for birth mothers and their children. The report is informed by the experiences of the women working with Pause.
- Morriss, L. (2018). 'Haunted futures: The stigma of being a mother living apart from her child(ren) as a result of state-ordered court removal', Sociological Review, vol. 66, no. 4, pp. 816-831. In this article, the author depicts how mothers who have lost their children to the care system exist in a state of 'haunted motherhood': they are paralysed in anticipation of an imagined future of reunification with their children. They are also painfully aware that any future pregnancy will also be subject to child protection procedures. Relevant for understanding the ongoing importance to the mothers of their children and of an empathetic approach when engaging parents.
- Broadhurst, K and Mason, C. (2019). Child removal as the gateway to further adversity: Birth mother accounts of the immediate and enduring collateral consequences of child removal. Qualitative Social Work 0(0) 1–23. This article uses evidence from interviews with mothers carried out as part of the Lancaster recurrent care research to illustrate the consequences for women of having a child removed. In addition to grief and shame, also key is the loss of their role as mothers and the wider consequences of that.
- Boddy, J and Wheeler, B. (2020). Recognition and Justice? Conceptualizing Support for Women Whose Children Are in Care or Adopted. Societies, Vol 10, Issue 4. This article draws on the authors’ evaluation of Pause and includes discussion of the importance of motherhood for women who have had their children removed.
- Practitioners from Reflect in Swansea worked hard with children’s social care services locally to improve the experience of women having their last visit with their child or children before an adoption order is made. Reflect practitioners consulted the women about the things that would make a difference to them. These two documents indicate how practice has changed as a result of that work; Farewell Contacts - Before Reflect Support and Farewell Contacts Process - Post Reflect.