Removal at birth and infants in care: Maternity under stress
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This paper focuses on the removal and placement in state care of newborns and infants. National child protection data show a growing proportion of infants entering care. Pre-birth provides an unparalleled opportunity for early intervention. Arguably, the removal of infants from their mothers undermines this opportunity and unarguably, creates cascading negative effects on women and their families. Western Australia is used as a case study wherein data over a seven-year period details an increase in infants entering care. This paper presents these data and examines the policy text to identify how they portray the problem of risk to infants, represent their mothers and shape practice. The findings suggest a lack of attention to the interdependence of the mother-infant relationship and the needs of vulnerable women. Being exploratory and interpretive, these findings constitute a guide for alternative representations and solutions that promote the health and wellbeing of the mother-child unit.
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