By Kat Osthwaite, Impact & Influencing Lead
The number of children in care in the UK is rising every year. We know that a large number of children entering care are from families who have previously had a child removed from their care, with women caught in a traumatic cycle of repeat pregnancies that result in the removal of children. This shouldn’t have to happen and at Pause, we work to end this cycle.
We do this by working to improve the lives of women who have had – or are at risk of having – more than one child removed from their care. Alongside our direct relationship-based support work with women, we also work to improve the services and systems that affect birth parents, to ensure no family experiences the removal of a child from their care more than once. Through our campaigns and influencing work at both a local and national level, we aim to improve the system for birth parents and, in turn, improve outcomes for children.
Over the last two years, we have been delighted to see a renewed political focus on improving the children’s social care system. In 2021, the government appointed Josh MacAlister to lead an Independent Review of Children’s Social Care – the ‘Care Review’ – which was published in May 2022. In response to this, in February last year, the Department for Education set out its strategy to “reset” the children’s social care system and reduce the number of children entering the care system through “more meaningful and effective help for families”.
It is critical that there is a spotlight on improving the children’s social care system and ensuring the best outcomes for children in care. We welcome the acknowledgement to date of the importance of the wider family network, and at Pause, we are committed to amplifying the voices of the birth mothers to ensure birth families’ voices are not forgotten. Through our influencing work, we work with some of the brilliant women who are currently on or who have graduated from the Pause Programme. They bravely share their experiences and identify areas for change, in order to influence key decision-makers to take action to improve the children’s social care system for the whole family.
We know that a lot of work is needed to ensure all families receive the support needed to thrive. From feedback from women, our practitioners and the data we collect, we have identified three key themes for the change we want to see, which have informed our priority areas for the upcoming year:
- Improving the policies and practices of the children’s social care system as a whole: We aim to end repeat removals in children’s social care, so that no family experiences the removal of a child from their care more than once. Read our Never More Than Once report for more on our recommendations for change to make this vision a reality.
- Improving relationships for families: We know that relationships are so important for everyone. We work to ensure birth parents are not forgotten when thinking about relationships for families. This year, we will place particular focus on improving kinship care for all, as well as improving post-adoption contact arrangements. Read more about our work so far on relationships with children in our Knowing They’re OK and Time to Deliver reports.
- Improving wider societal issues which disproportionately impact the women that Pause work with: We hear time and time again from the women we work with about how important stable housing is for them, and the myriad of challenges which face women who have experienced the removal of children from their care. Our focus for this year is working to remove the barriers to stable housing. You can hear more about housing issues in our new series of our co-produced podcast series, In a Mother’s Mind, and you can register for our webinar on housing, on Tuesday 23 January.
We know that change is possible; we know that we can make things better for children, birth parents and families in all forms, and we are committed to doing so.
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