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Birth parents and the collateral consequences of child removal: towards a comprehensive framework

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/04/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family
Issue number1
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)41-59
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date10/03/17
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article aims to capture the full range of consequences that birth parents face, following court-ordered removal of their children on account of child protection concerns. With references to legislative and policy responses in England, the USA, and Australia, we argue that states reinforce parents’ exclusion, where the full gamut of challenges these parents face is poorly understood. Drawing on a wealth of criminological research concerned with the collateral consequences of criminal justice involvement we adapt conceptual ideas and vocabularies to describe the combination of informal and formal penalties that parents face at this juncture. Discussion extends previous published studies concerned with loss and social stigma following child removal but charts new theoretical ground regarding legal stigmatization and welfare disqualifications. The article is timely given the continued high volume of children entering state care in a number of international jurisdictions and recent empirical evidence from England that a sizeable population of birth parents who appear as respondents in the family court are repeat clients. Making the case for a fundamental re-appraisal of state responses following court-ordered removal, the article concludes with a call for a more comprehensive family justice response, attuned to the additive burden of child removal on parents whose lives are already blighted by histories of disadvantage.