Women who have had children removed from their care increasingly affected by the cost-of-living crisis, as support services are forced to close

A new briefing from national charity Pause, highlights how women who have had children removed from their care are being disproportionately affected as living costs rise, and support services for them are being forced to close.  


Pause’s Heating or Eating briefing finds that, in addition to having to deal with increased costs in all aspects of their lives – eating, heating and travel – women who have had children removed from their care are also facing challenges in a unique aspect of their lives: maintaining relationships with their children.  


Women who have to pay to travel to attend their contact arrangements with their children or who need to provide a positive and warm environment for their children when they visit, are facing increasingly difficult choices and are often going without heating or food themselves.  


‘Zoe’ (not her real name), a woman who is currently on the Pause Programme, says: 


“I only put the heating on when I have my kids round for contact (once a week for 3 hours), to try and reduce cost. Which do I choose to pay? Rent, a bill, heating or food?” 


Contact arrangements are important to maintain family relationships and emotional connections when children are no longer in their birth parents care. These difficult choices brought on by the cost-of-living crisis, may impact the quality of women’s relationships with their children. 


At this time of increased need for their services, Pause and other services like them are at risk. As there is no statutory obligation to deliver post-removal support to birth parents, local authorities are no longer able to prioritise such services due to tight budgets. 

In the next two months, three Pause Practices will be forced to close their doors. Jules Hillier, Chief Executive of Pause, says: 


“As well as women being affected by the cost-of-living crisis, in some parts of the country, they are also facing service cuts. Local authorities know that the rates of children taken into care will increase because of these decisions but they tell us they simply can’t afford the services. Women need the support of services like Pause and others, to offer them real hope and to help them build a more positive future. These decisions could have a disastrous impact on women and their children.”  


‘Georgia’ (not her real name) is a woman who is currently on the Pause Programme in an area where the Practice is closing. She says: 


“The thought of women not having that safety net scares me. Who will they have to help them get back on their feet? Who will advocate for them? The vicious circle won’t stop if Pause isn’t funded. More children will be taken into care.” 


Evidence from Pause shows that sustained investment decreases the number of children entering the care system and benefits women who have experienced the removal of children from their care, whilst also deliver savings to the public purse. In the context of the cost-of-living crisis, Pause recommends that:  


·         All local authorities prioritise the support they offer to birth parents and the government should ensure, in their response to the Care Review, that they commit to providing support to birth parents, across the country. 

·         All local authorities provide support with the practical challenges of maintaining relationships with children, this should include travel costs and phone credit if necessary.