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Title: Capturing the scale and pattern of recurrent care proceedings: initial observations from a feasibility study
Authors: Broadhurst, K
Harwin, J
Shaw, M
Alrouh, B
Keywords: Feasibility study;Care proceedings;Public law;English family court
Issue Date: 2014
Citation: Family Law -Bristol-, 2014, August
Abstract: This article reports the initial findings of a feasibility study that has captured the scale and pattern of recurrent care proceedings. Although frontline professionals have reported long-standing concerns about the repeat clients of public law proceedings, prior to the study we report, the scale of the problem has been unknown. With funding from the Nuffield Foundation and support from the Child and Family Court Advisory Service (CAFCASS) and the President of the Family Division, the research team has arrived at a first estimate of prevalence, confirming that recurrence is a sizeable problem for the English family court. Based on cases that completed during the observational window 2007-2013 (calendar years), 7,143 birth mothers appeared in 15,645 recurrent care applications concerning 22,790 infants and children. Moreover, the study most likely underestimates recurrence, because reliable data concerning completed cases is not available before 2007. Initial observations are that the spacing between recurrent care proceedings is very short, which raises searching questions about prevention. Where episodes of care proceedings follow in swift succession, most likely prompted by the birth of another infant, this affords mothers little opportunity to effect change. Unless, this ‘status quo’ is tackled, it is difficult to envisage how vulnerable birth mothers can exit this cycle. Preliminary recommendations are made in respect of policy and practice change.
ISSN: 0014-7281
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