An innovative scheme aimed at helping women who risk having children taken away because they keep getting pregnant could be rolled out in Dundee.
Women would be supported in delaying future pregnancies under the initiative.
If it goes ahead, it will the first programme of its kind to operate in Scotland.
Jane Martin, Dundee City Council’s chief social work officer, has been in discussions with Pause – an English organisation that works with women at risk of repeated pregnancies resulting in children being removed from their care due to their circumstances.
There are 20 Pause practices operating across England, which offers women an 18-month intensive package of support, address a range of emotional, psychological, practical, and behavioural needs. As a condition of beginning the programme, the women agree to use an effective form of reversible contraceptive for the duration of the programme.
Figures show that in the past five years, 113 women in Dundee have had 341 children removed from their care by social services, due to issues such as substance misuse or poor mental health.
Ms Martin said: “During the past year, social work has been involved in looking at issues around women who have had multiple children removed, with the aim of addressing their needs and the associated risk factors.
“Pause is an organisation that already operates across a number of areas in England and has recently been in discussion with council officers from Dundee about the possibility of piloting a service in Scotland.
“The Pause approach is based around supporting these women to delay further pregnancies alongside an intensive, flexible programme of support tailored to their individual needs.
“It has been identified there would be a demand for this type of service in Dundee.
“Research tells us that a small number of women, often with multiple problems relating to adverse childhood experiences, mental health, substance misuse and domestic abuse, experience numerous pregnancies and have had a number of children removed from their care.
“The approach aims to provide additional support addressing all these issues in order to end this negative cycle and enable the women to move forward in their lives.
“Financial arrangements are currently being clarified, with the aspiration for a service to begin during the 2019-20 financial year.”
As part of her annual report, Ms Martin has identified a number of other priorities for 2019-20 – including tackling the number of people viewing child abuse images.
She said: “A continuing area of concern is the increase in the number of people convicted after being found in possession of indecent internet images of children.
“Dundee hosts the Tayside-wide Tay Project which specialises in delivering the court mandated Moving Forward Making Changes Programme.
“We are continuing to work with schools and Police Scotland to tackle this issue.”
She added that other sexual offences, including so-called “revenge porn” – where someone shares an intimate photo of another person on the internet without their permission – was also a concern.
She said: “Offences of this type are on the increase and we are working with partners to find ways of dealing with this.”