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A Local Authority v The Mother & Anor [2017] EWFC B59 – A case highlighting the importance and benefit of securing early therapeutic input within care proceedings

In this recent judgment, His Honour Judge Wildblood QC (HHJ Wildblood QC) expresses the importance of parents receiving necessary therapy at an early stage in care proceedings. The Court highlighted the common situation where an expert reporting within proceedings has recommended that a parent engage with therapy, but that owing to delays in securing therapeutic provision, this work has not been able to take place within the necessary timescales for the child.

This case involved the making of care and placement orders in respect of a five-month of child. The mother, who was in her mid twenties, had learning difficulties and had been severely abused during her childhood by experiencing emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Her older son had been made subject to care and placement orders just four months before the final hearing concerning this child.

Despite previous care proceedings and ongoing local authority involvement, the option of therapeutic input was never offered to the mother to try to enable her to overcome her long standing difficulties.

The Judge therefore had the difficult decision of whether:

– The child returned to live with her mother;
– The case was adjourned to assess the mother and the child further; or
– To make the care and placement orders sought by the Local Authority.

Unfortunately the Judge found that the only way that the child’s paramount interests could be met was through care and placement orders.

What is important to note is that HHJ Wildblood QC raised the concern that this is “yet another case of a young mother with a background in which she has experienced extreme abuse and deprivation whom has not been offered therapeutic support. It may well have been discussed with her in the past but has never been followed through to the point of offer of therapy” and that “this case is another example of how important it is that, if therapy is needed, it is obtained at an early stage”.

This case is therefore significant in bringing attention to providing the support that is needed for vulnerable parents, which could avoid families breaking down and children being placed in care and ultimately for adoption.

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