8.35 Pre-Birth Child Protection Procedures
This chapter is currently under review
- Pre-Birth Multi-Agency Strategy Meeting
- Pre-Birth Assessment
- Pre-Birth Conference
- The Development of a Pre-Birth Child Protection Plan
- Timing of Review Conference Following a Pre-Birth Conference
- Recording of Pre-Birth Child Protection Plan
In some circumstances, agencies or individuals are able to anticipate the likelihood of Significant Harm with regard to an expected baby.
Such concerns should be addressed as early as possible to maximise time for:
Where agencies or individuals anticipate that prospective parents may need support services to care for their baby or that the baby may be at risk of Significant Harm, a referral to Children's Social Care must be made at the earliest opportunity, using theMaking a Referral Procedure.
Referrals must always be made in the following circumstances:
Where the concerns centre around a category of parenting behaviour e.g. substance misuse, the referrer must make clear how this is likely to impact on the baby and what risks are predicted.
Delay must be avoided when making referrals to Children's Social Care in order to:
Concerns should be shared with prospective parent(s) and consent obtained to refer to Children's Social Care unless this action in itself may place the welfare of the unborn child at risk e.g. if there are concerns that the parent(s) may move to avoid contact.
All pre-birth Referrals to Children's Social Care must be subject to a Child and Family Assessment and a multi-agency Strategy Meeting must be held in the circumstances described in Recognition above.
Pre-Birth Multi-Agency Strategy Meeting
This Strategy Meeting will be chaired by a Children's Social Care line manager and involve:
The purpose of the meeting is the same as that of other Strategy Discussion/Meetings and should determine:
The assessment plan must be consistent with standards required for possible court proceedings, including clear letters of instruction.
Parents should be informed as soon as possible of the concerns and the need for assessment, except on the rare occasions when medical guidance advice suggests this may be harmful to the health of the unborn baby and/or mother.
The overall aim of the pre-birth assessment is to identify and understand:
A pre-birth conference should be conducted as if it were an Initial Child Protection Conference concerning an unborn child. Such a conference has the same status and purpose and must be conducted in a comparable manner to an Initial Child Protection Conference.
A pre-birth conference should be held where a:
Other risk factors to be considered are:
All agencies involved with pregnant women who have concerns should consider the need for an early Referral to Children's Social Care, so that assessments are undertaken, and family support services provided, as early as possible in the pregnancy.
Timing of Conference
The pre-birth conference should take place ideally at least 3 months before the due date of delivery, so as to allow as much time as possible for planning support for the pregnancy and the birth of the baby.
Where there is a known likelihood of a premature birth, the conference should be held earlier.
Those who normally attend an Initial Child Protection Conference must be invited (see Membership of Child Protection Conference Procedure). In addition representatives of the midwifery and relevant neo-natal services and social worker(s) for the parents, if applicable should also be invited. If either parent is a care leaver and the social worker is unable to attend, the service should be represented by a senior social worker, senior practitioner or Manager.
The Development of a Pre-Birth Child Protection Plan
If a decision is made that the child requires a Child Protection Plan, the main cause for concern must determine the category of concern and a Child Protection Plan should be outlined to commence prior to the birth of the baby and made available to midwifery staff 4 weeks prior to the expected date of delivery where possible.
The Core Group must be established and is expected to meet prior to the birth, and certainly prior to the baby's return home after a hospital birth.
Timing of Review Conference Following a Pre-Birth Conference
The Child Protection Plan only comes in to effect when the child is born and the plan should be reviewed at a Review Conference scheduled to take place within 3 months of the child's birth. The conference chair will determine the date.
Recording of Pre-Birth Child Protection Plan
Where a pre-birth conference has decided that an unborn child is to be the subject of a Child Protection Plan, her/his name and expected date of birth may be placed on the child's social care record immediately and their name and date of birth confirmed at birth.