Derbyshire County Council is set to pay £860,000 hiring a firm to run a controversial programme which requires troubled mothers to take contraceptives.
The Pause Programme, agreed by the authority’s cabinet in April, intends to assist 48 mums whose children are repeatedly taken into care.
The programme aims to help the mothers over a four-year period and to prevent 25 children from going into care.
As part of the scheme, which has caused some controversy, women will be asked to take a long-acting yet reversible form of contraception to prevent pregnancy.
This is a voluntary decision and will be made after 16 weeks of work with the Pause Programme team, made up of NHS staff as well as GPs and social workers.
Now, tender documents have revealed that the council is seeking to pay a company £860,000 to provide these services over four years.
According to Derbyshire County Council, the most common reasons for women having children taken away are alcohol and substance abuse, domestic abuse, street sex work and mental health issues.
Tender documents from the county council say: “Derbyshire County Council is seeking a provider to assist in delivering an innovative programme to reduce the number of children needing to enter the care system, namely the Pause Programme.
“It is intended to deliver the support through a cost-avoidance model over a four-year period.
“The council is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of 48 women through the provision of the Pause Programme throughout the life of the contract and is seeking a provider who has the experience, commitment, innovation and ambition to work in partnership with the council to offer an intense programme of emotional, psychological, practical and behavioural support.
“This will result in a reduction in care proceedings and a subsequent reduction in costs associated with these.”
It is thought that the scheme could save the authority £572,000 over four years.
The average cost for each child taken into care at birth in Derbyshire is £56,000 which includes initial fostering placement and adoption costs but not long-term ongoing costs.
In Derbyshire, 80 women had 262 children under the age of five taken into care during the five years up to March 2018.
The highest number of children removed into care from one mother was eight. One had seven and six had six taken away.
Derbyshire County Council did not comment on the tender directly but referred to previous comments made by cabinet member for young people, Councillor Alex Dale.
He said: “Children can be taken into care for any number of complex reasons but the consequences are always devastating and traumatic for them, their mothers and their families.
“This programme offers women intensive tailor-made support while working in small groups with skilled specialists to allow them to focus on their own needs – often for the first time in their lives.
“It also works in partnership with the NHS, housing, social work, the justice system and other agencies and is pioneering in the way it works not only with women at risk, but with their wider family and friends network too to ensure they feel as supported as possible through difficult times.”
Editor’s note: Nailed has no information on the validity or value judgements involved in child removal, nor on possible incentives, coercion, or penalties for leaving the program. We will look into the ethics of this issue (which can be considered to be a form of eugenics), as well as sourcing critical perspectives.