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Family Courts Remove Successive Children

Thousands of mothers have had successive children removed by family courts in England over the past seven years, according to research led by experts at the University of Manchester.

During 2007-2013, 7,143 birth mothers appeared in 15,645 recurrent care applications concerning 22,790 infants and children.

The study also found approximately one in every three care applications concern a mother who can be described as a repeat client of the family court.

Local authorities issue care proceedings where they are so concerned about children that compulsory legal intervention is deemed necessary to secure the safety and wellbeing of children.

But the continued high volume of care applications made annually by local authorities has led to members of the judiciary raising concerns about birth mothers who they see appearing and re-appearing before them, only to lose successive infants to public care or adoption.

The research also found recurrent care proceedings follow in short succession, most commonly prompted by the birth of another infant.

“From this we can infer that birth mothers are pregnant again, either during the first set of proceedings, or shortly after,” commented lead researcher Dr Karen Broadhurst. “In addition, in 42% of cases, the local authority will issue a care application within the first month of an infant’s birth. This pattern raises questions about prevention because mothers will have very little time to effect change between episodes of care proceedings.”

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