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Mothers of children removed under a care order: outcomes and experiences

Richardson, Vanessa; Brammer, Alison


Vanessa Richardson


Focusing on accounts by women who have children taken into care, this paper reports on a socio-legal case study in England, investigating the life experiences of nine mothers, whose children have been made subject to care orders under the Children Act 1989. In particular it considers the women’s experiences of their relationships with their own mothers and places this within the context of the mothers’ own experiences of having their children taken into care. Drawing on free association narrative interviews, the study focuses on the mothers’ accounts of long-term harm that began in their childhoods, especially their experiences of their mothers’ own difficulties and of their experiences of harm. It highlights the impact of relationship difficulties between mother and child, and questions how the legal concepts of harm and reasonable parental care are defined and deployed. In conclusion, it demonstrates a need for the legal framework to address children’s experiences of harm in a more intergenerational and intersubjective way. It highlights a new approach, suggesting consideration of harm, reasonable parental care and welfare to involve an increased concentration on the welfare of mothers and the relationship between mother and child, akin to an intersubjective and intergenerational approach to harm.


Richardson, V., & Brammer, A. (2020). Mothers of children removed under a care order: outcomes and experiences. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 42(3), 360 - 376.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 11, 2020
Publication Date Aug 11, 2020
Journal Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law
Print ISSN 0964-9069
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 42
Issue 3
Pages 360 - 376
Keywords Vulnerable mothers, care orders, reasonable parental care, harm, welfare, intergenerational harm, intersubjectivity
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