A Pause report has found that the current system of contact is leaving women unsupported, resulting in poor outcomes for families. Increased, trauma-informed support is needed. Pause’s latest report, Knowing They’re OK, calls for changes to the system of contact between birth parents and children across the UK. The report findings include:
- 83% of women who took part have had their contact arrangements changed.
- 63% of these say they have not been given information on why contact arrangements with children have changed, often resulting in a breakdown in arrangements with detrimental results for the children, birth parents, adoptive families and carers.
- Better trauma-informed support leads to improved outcomes.
Jules Hillier, Chief Executive of Pause said:
“Women tell us every day that relationships with their children are hugely important. There is evidence that well managed and flexible contact arrangements leads to better outcomes for women and children. All too often these are badly handled. We’re calling for change. Local authorities must ensure everyone involved in contact is provided with the support they need to access the therapeutic, trauma-informed support, they need to participate, overcome practical challenges of maintaining relationships with children and understand changes to contact arrangements before they take place.
Contact between birth parents and their children is about relationships, not admin. The current system puts up barriers and makes it impossible for families to build, maintain and sustain vital relationships. Women, their children, and families deserve better.”
Pause is calling on Local Government across the UK to improve the contact system by:
- Providing access to the trauma-informed, therapeutic, and practical support for everyone that needs it, to take part in contact.
- Clearly communicating all changes to contact arrangements, ensuring they are clearly understood, and providing all communication in plain English.
- Supporting better letterbox contact between birth parents and children with trauma-informed practice.
- Ensuring digital innovations in contact that have emerged from the COVID-19 experience are embedded, and recommendations from the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory for the continued development of digitally mediated contact are implemented.
V, Woman working with Pause said:
“The system needs to change for the better. The current system is not working, not everyone gets even yearly contact, I am one of these women and it is heart-breaking. This is our only connection with our children until they are at an age where they can contact us again. Yes, we all wish things had turned out differently, but we still deserve this communication with our children.”
The report sets out a vision for a system in which contact arrangements are positive experiences, for birth mothers and their children. It includes wider recommendations, including a statutory duty for post-removal support coupled with mandatory data collection about contact arrangements to measure and support better outcomes.
Pause’s work on Relationships with Children is being launched alongside our report Knowing They’re OK, today 29 July 2020. You can find out more about the work here and by the following Pause on Twitter @PauseOrg and by using the hashtag #KnowingTheyreOK
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