Northamptonshire County Council is proposing to bring in a new programme to prevent women having repeated numbers of children taken into care.
The Pause Programme – which signs up women to a combined counselling and contraception programme – is being considered by the authority in a bid to save large sums it is spending on legal care proceedings and also on looking after children in either foster or residential placements.
It is proposing to spend £794,000 on the three-year programme and hopes to save £2.6m during that time in reduced legal and care costs.
The plan is that 48 Northamptonshire women who either have had two or more children removed from their guardianship, or who have no children in their care, will be signed up to the programme.
The council’s cabinet is being asked to sign off the scheme tomorrow (NOV 12).
A report being put before the Conservative-run cabinet says: “The decision to implement a local Pause programme has arisen out of a collaborative scoping exercise commissioned by Northamptonshire Public Health and Children First Northamptonshire in response to the high number of women subject of repeat care proceedings in the county. The findings from this scoping exercise have been considered by Children’s First Senior Leadership Team and the Clinical Commissioning Group Local Maternity and Neonatal System.
“The programme has been subject to careful scrutiny and evaluation at national level and has a strong track record and a growing evidence base (including an independent evaluation commissioned by the Department for Education) in engaging and providing individual support for women who have had traumatic experiences and complex needs.”
It explains: “Pause is a trauma-informed programme in which a consistent and dependable relationship is built between a skilled and experienced Pause Practitioner and the women. Each Pause Practice works intensively with up to 24 women per cohort over a period of years. Locally we are looking to explore the 2-cohort 3 practitioner model over 4.5 years. Pause offers a combination of therapeutic, practical and emotional support, tailored around each woman’s needs.”
The proposal is to procure Derby based organisation Ripplez to do the work and to pay for use a social impact bond arrangement involving Bridges, who the council has worked with on two previous occasions.
The contract will be paid using Public Health Fund grant meaning the cost for each woman using the programme will be £16,000.
The programme, which has been running in certain parts of the country since 2013 and has been supported by the Department fro Education, has attracted criticism in some areas with ethical concerns raised about women having to sign up to contraception to receive support.