It is estimated that 1 in 4 women involved in care proceedings will become ‘repeat clients’ of the family court within 7 years (Broadhurst et al. 2017). Reflect is a service that aims to provide practical and emotional support to women and their partners who have experienced the compulsory and permanent removal of a child from their care. Parents are supported for up to two years and are given tailor-made help ranging from counselling and confidence building, to debt management.
Described as encouraging ‘women and their partners to understand their past, their present and achieve their future goals’ (Barnardo’s 2017), Reflect’s primary aim is to prevent repeat pregnancy in the short-term, when there has been little time for positive change and successive child removal remains the most likely outcome.
The service was developed in 2016, in partnership between Newport City Council, Barnardo’s and Aneurin Bevan Health Board. Initially available in Newport, Reflect was quickly expanded across Gwent. Since then, the Welsh Government has committed £850,000 to ensure the availability of similar support across Wales.
CASCADE was commissioned to undertake an evaluation of Reflect in Gwent. Funded by Public Health Wales and the Welsh Government, the research highlighted high level and multi-faceted needs of women and their partners. The process of building relationships and trust was often time consuming and challenging, and the sensitive and respectful approach of Reflect workers was important in overcoming these barriers. The results of the study were encouraging; parents valued the availability of emotional and practical support and there was evidence of positive progress in a range of areas including health, housing and well-being.
The evaluation report provides full details of the study methods and findings. In addition, we commissioned production company Like an Egg to create a film to summarise the findings of interviews with women engaged with the service. This includes their initial feelings about the service, the type of support provided and their reflections on change and progress. The voices heard in the film are from women involved with Reflect.