19.10 Children/Young People Under 18 Who Become Parents
This policy was last reviewed in Feb 2023
Date of next review Feb 2026
This is gender neutral policy. The following terms are used:
Birthing or pregnant person instead of woman
Person/people and they/them pronouns
- Introduction(Jump to)
- Parents in Existing Foster Placements(Jump to)
- Care Proceedings(Jump to)
- Young Parent is Looked After(Jump to)
- Young Parent is not Looked After(Jump to)
All professionals have a responsibility to consider the welfare of both the prospective birthing person and their baby. Any assessment of need should address what support systems exist for the young person and their family and should consider early help and support services, particularly where the person is a looked after child (child in care) or care leaver themselves. However, the paramount concern must be for the welfare of the unborn baby, and there should be no circumstances in which concerns about the unborn baby are not shared and investigated for fear of damaging a relationship with a parent.
Where a parent are themselves a child, in the absence of support from family or a professional network for their needs and responsibilities, their baby is likely to be at risk of significant harm.
Where there are concerns about the ability of any young person to care for their baby without additional support, a referral must also be made to Children's Services -Making a referral
Any staff member being made aware of possible pregnancy are always encouraged to approach health colleagues for advice, this could include the school nurse or sexual health advisor for example. The briefing sheet below identifies where professionals can obtain further advice.
Pregnant person under 16
It is illegal for children under 16 years to be sexually active; professionals will assess whether the young person’s actions and decision making are Gillick competent and whether to involve safeguarding partners. Please refer to Sexually Active Children Policy
All professionals, particularly health and education staff who have most contact with pregnant teenagers, should be alert to situations where a teenage pregnant person is not in contact with local authority children's social care and a referral should be made at the earliest opportunity.
In all the following circumstances, the unborn baby should be referred to Front Door/MASH/ SPOA. Children who become parents under the age of 16 should be referred to Front Door/MASH/ SPOA in their own right.
Pregnant person under 18
Front Door/MASH/SPOA should always seek legal advice to clarify the legal status of parents and babies where the parent is under 18 and any of the following scenarios apply.
Parents in Existing Foster Placements
The parent's accommodation and placement will need to be considered in light of the baby arriving:
If there are care proceedings realted the prospetive parent:
Young Parent is Looked After
If young parent is looked after (Care Order or S20):
Young Parent is not Looked After
In all cases where the parent with care is under 18 and has a social worker in their own right (eg if they are on a CP or CIN plan, or are a Relevant Child), their child should also have their own social worker. This policy may only be varied in exceptional circumstances and with the approval of the relevant Head of Safeguarding. At all times the primary focus should be the needs of the baby.