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 section should be read in conjunction with Pre-Birth Conference  and Concealed Pregnancy and Sexually active children  and Pre-birth planning for care leavers 

This is gender neutral policy. The following terms are used:

Birthing or pregnant person instead of woman

Person/people and they/them pronouns

Contents

Introduction

19.10.1

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.

19.10.2

 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.

19.10.3

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  

19.10.4

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.

Guidance on planning a conversation with a young person who might be preganant

19.10.5

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.

  • The young parent is already looked after;
  • The young parent may become looked after as a result of the pregnancy;
  • The young parent is open to children's services;
  • There are safeguarding concerns regarding the unborn baby;
  • The young parent is under 16.
19.10.6

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.

  • The young parent is already looked after;
  • The young parent may become looked after as a result of the pregnancy;
  • The young parent is open to children's services;
  • There are safeguarding concerns regarding the baby;
  • The young parent is under 18.

 

Parents in Existing Foster Placements

19.10.7

The parent's accommodation and placement will need to be considered in light of the baby arriving:

  • Does the parent  need to move placement?
  • What is status of the parent in a new placement? Will they  remain looked after?
  • Is a parent and baby placement potentially available for the remainder of parent's minority?
  • Can the parent return to their established placement in the event that baby does not remain in their care?
  • What is proposed for the other parent's involvement and care role?

Care Proceedings

19.10.8

If there are care proceedings realted the prospetive parent:

  • a pre-birth assessment should be undertaken
  • consideration for a S47 Child Protection Enquiry to be underttaken
  • Legal advice must be sought, and consideration given to PLO pre-proceedings in respect of the baby
  • In most cases a separate application for care proceedings and an ICO will need to be issued upon the birth of the baby, and consideration given to the baby being joined to the parent's care proceedings.
  • It will be necessary to agree who is to be primary carer in the placement:
    • Parent (where the baby is made subject to an ICO, placement with parents regs apply, or
    • Foster carer/Kinship Care carer.

Young Parent is Looked After

19.10.9

If young parent is looked after (Care Order or S20):

  • The young parent and baby should have separate allocated social workers (including separate ones for each parent, if both are under 18), ideally within the same team. The Lead Social Worker will generally be the the baby's social worker, unless otherwise agreed. The pre-birth assessment should be carried out of the baby and separately of each parent if under 18;
  • If the young parent remains looked after once the baby is born, the baby should be subject to a CIN plan at a minimum. If the young parent is subject to a care order, legal advice must be sought in relation to the baby;
  • It will be necessary to agree who is to be primary carer: parent (in which case placement with parents regs apply) or foster carer/Kinship Care carer;
  • If young person is accommodated under S20 agreement as a result of safeguarding concerns, seek legal advice regarding the status of the baby, after following the pre-birth protocol as per the pre-birth guidance;
  • If young person subject to S20 as a result of UASC status or under Southwark agreement, it may be that baby does not need to become looked after. Legal advice should be sought.

Young Parent is not Looked After

19.10.10

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.

This page is correct as printed on Tuesday 16th of July 2024 07:04:45 AM please refer back to this website (http://sussexchildprotection.procedures.org.uk) for updates.