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. Typically, the women are young, with an intersecting range of social, emotional and health related challenges. Linked to this, the children these women have are at risk of suffering from physical and social difficulties in adult life, with a tendency towards marginalised life outcomes.
We offered an 18-month, individually-tailored, intensive package of support, delivered by a dedicated Practitioner, which addressed a broad range of emotional, psychological, practical, and behavioural needs. As a condition of beginning this voluntary programme, women agree to use an effective form of reversible contraceptive for the 18-month duration of the programme. In addition to providing support, Pause works in collaboration with partner agencies (such as health and domestic violence services), at operational and strategic levels, to improve the broader service response to Pause women.
The innovation was effective in reducing the number of pregnancies experienced by women, during their 18-month interventions. This allowed women to have the opportunity to reflect and focus on their own needs. These reductions in likely child removals, as well as demand on wider social services, would result in savings between £1.2-2.1m per year. Furthermore, women’s access to, and engagement with, services, including GPs, housing, and substance abuse services, increased over time.
As part of Round Two of the DfE’s innovation project £6.8m has been awarded to scale and spread the programme to nine new practices. This will allow them to intervene at an earlier stage, by working with care leavers.