St Helens project that supports women who have children in care secures more funding

The St Helens practice, which has been running since October 2017 and is the first Pause practice in Merseyside, was initially funded until April
The St Helens practice, which has been running since October 2017 and is the first Pause practice in Merseyside, was initially funded until April
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A pilot project that supports women who have had multiple children removed from their care has secured funding for another 18 months.


The Pause Programme is a national initiative that aims to break the cycle of repeat removals.

The St Helens practice, which has been running since October 2017 and is the first Pause practice in Merseyside, was initially funded until April.

According to the latest figures, there are 480 children in care in St Helens.

During the initial 18-month pilot, Pause St Helens worked with 21 women who between them have had 71 children removed.

The first class of women, who are aged between 21 and 38, graduated from the programme last week.

Work is now being undertaken to line up the next group after funding was secured from St Helens Council for another round.

Kelly Cox, Pause practice lead, provided an update on the pilot to the council’s children and young people’s services overview and scrutiny panel on Monday.

Ms Cox said: “We’re delighted to have the funding from the council to carry on and provide another round of the programme.

“At the moment we are supporting a group of women who are coming towards the end of their 18 months with Pause, and we are also reaching out to a group of new local women with the vision of making it a rolling programme so that there’s never a space vacant on the programme.

“That is the way we would like to deliver the service.”

On average, the first group of women had around four children removed from their care.

Ms Cox said the programme offers women the chance to “take a pause from pregnancy” for 18 months.

While on the programme, some women also had support from a practitioner to use a long-active, reversable contraception.

Ms Cox said: “The women who have signed up to the long-active, reversable contraception tell us that it was an easy decision to make.

“They tell us it was the first time they have been able to put themselves first to be able to make themselves better mums for their children who, some of them do still have contact with.

“However, a number of children are adopted, and those women hold out the hope that one day those children will come back to find them.

“The approach we use those women is, what would you like to be if they do come back to find you?

“We help to motivate them to really think about their goals and their own targets. We keep the women at the centre of the intervention of the plans we deliver.”

Ms Cox added that none of the women in St Helens have become pregnant while on the programme.

Labour’s Nova Charlton, chairman of the panel, attended the graduation on Friday and said it was “obvious” the women had bought into the programme.

Town Centre councillor Michelle Sweeney said the programme has been a “long time coming”.

Coun Sweeney said: “It’s an amazing piece of work and I really look forward to it going and continuing, hopefully, the long-term impacts reducing children being taken into care.”