Every local authority within the UK has women with complex and challenging needs to whom multiple children are born and subsequently removed into the care system under child protection proceedings. These women are typically young, disadvantaged and living with intersecting and numerous social, emotional, environmental and health related challenges.
The numbers of women per borough may be relatively small, however the children they give birth to are numerous and their life course outcomes are significantly marginalised. These children are often born with short and long-term physical and emotional difficulties and many become vulnerable adults requiring significant interventions from public services throughout their life course.
Whilst the scale of this problem has been well known and understood at a local level, it is only recently that a comprehensive national data set has been gathered to provide the compelling evidence. A Lancaster University study estimates the scale and pattern of recurrent care proceedings over a seven year period (Broadhurst et al 2014). The numbers are significant, showing a total of 46,094 birth mothers appearing before the courts of which 15.5% (7,143) were linked to recurrent care applications. As each woman may be linked to more than one child, the total number of care applications associated with this group is as high as 29% of all care applications (22,790).
The Financial Benefits
If we estimate that 100 women, with a similar profile to those currently on Pause, were spread over 5 sites over a 5 year period with no intervention, they could potentially have 264* children removed into care at a cost of almost £20million. These are primarily the costs of taking those 264* children into care and do not account for other associated costs.
The cost to run Pause for these 100 women, over the 5 sites for the 5 year period, would be approximately £9million. Therefore the potential cost avoidance/savings is in the region of £10million if no children were removed from this group.
*Data from Hackney Pause Financial Evaluation