Child removal as the gateway to further adversity : birth mother accounts of the immediate and enduring collateral consequences of child removal

Broadhurst, Karen and Mason, Claire (2020) Child removal as the gateway to further adversity : birth mother accounts of the immediate and enduring collateral consequences of child removal. Qualitative Social Work, 19 (1). pp. 15-37. ISSN 1473-3250

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This article is focused on the immediate and enduring consequences of child removal, from the perspective of birth mothers. The article builds on the authors’ previous theoretical work on the collateral consequences of child removal and women’s vulnerability to repeat family court appearances. Interview data drawn from in-depth qualitative interviews with 72 birth mothers conducted in seven local authority areas are revisited to enable a focused analysis of the immediate and longer-term effects of child removal. Analysis was informed by phenomenology’s interest in collective accounts of experience and the pursuit of moderate generalisations. All the women participating in the study had experienced the repeat removal of their children through the family courts, or were involved in child protection proceedings concerning an unborn child, having previously lost a child from their care. Birth mothers recounted an immediate psychosocial crisis following child removal, but also the cumulative and enduring nature of problems. From women’s accounts, we have been able to deepen our understanding of the enormity of the recovery challenge for women with long-standing histories of disadvantage who hold fragile and restricted social statuses. Role loss and further exclusionary consequences of child removal were particularly pronounced, given women’s limited access to protective resources. A clear set of recommendations for services are set out in a final discussion. The scale of the difficulties women face needs to be recognised in services that aim to promote recovery, if women are to be helped to avoid recurrent family court proceedings.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Qualitative Social Work
Additional Information:
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Qualitative Social Work, 19 (1), 2019, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2019 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Qualitative Social Work page: on SAGE Journals Online:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? birth parentschild protectionphenomenologysocial sciences (miscellaneous)health(social science) ??
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Deposited On:
05 Nov 2019 10:15
Last Modified:
25 May 2024 01:35