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Rising number of babies being taken into care

The number of newborn babies being taken into care in England is rising, according to a recent study.

Research, led by Professor Karen Broadhurst at Lancaster University, revealed that the number of babies removed from their parents has increased by 136% over the last nine years.

Almost all the 16,849 cases identified in the study resulted in care orders being granted to the local authorities.  The babies were then placed for adoption, put into foster care or placed with extended family; very few remained with their birth parent.

There were also significant regional variations highlighted in the research which showed that babies born in Yorkshire and the Humber were twice as likely to be subject to care proceedings as those born in London.

Sir James Mumby, retired president of the Family Division of the High Court expressed concerns about the regional variations and said they showed significant differences between the way the courts and local authorities behaved.

Professor Broadhurst, who first highlighted the alarming rise back in 2015, noted that around 35 babies in every 10,000 live births are likely to be taken from their parents. Many will be removed within hours of birth, because they have been identified as being at risk of significant harm.

However, there are questions around first time cases and whether there has been sufficient time to establish the likelihood of significant harm. Professor Broadhurst said: “For infants whose family is new to the court, pregnancy provides only a short window for the assessment of parenting capacity and support for change”.

Commenting on the findings, Michelle Lawton, children law specialist at Atherton Godfrey, said: “Removing the child is a severe form of intervention. However, authorities do have a duty to safeguard the child and often have to act swiftly.

If you are notified that the local authority is going to issue care proceedings, you should get legal advice immediately.

If you have parental responsibility, whether as a parent or as an extended family member, you will be able to claim legal aid so you don’t have to worry about paying for legal advice or the cost of a solicitor to go along to the court hearings with you.”

If social services become involved with your family, contact us for a confidential chat about your options.

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