SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter describes the procedure to be followed when a young woman who is Looked After becomes pregnant.
- Providing Support to the Expectant Mother
- Assessment of Needs of the Unborn Child and Assessment of Needs of the Expectant Mother
The number of Looked After young women becoming pregnant each year, and who are the responsibility of this Bradford MDC, is relatively small. However, when pregnancy occurs it is important that Children's Social Care responds in a clear and co-ordinated way, to ensure that the needs of both the mother and the expected child are properly addressed.
All expectant mothers who are Looked After - either by virtue of being Accommodated or subject to a Care Order - will require support, which may need to be provided from a variety of sources. The welfare of the unborn baby must also be addressed at as early a stage as possible to ensure that potential risks to the baby and/or future support requirements are identified, and plans put in place to meet those risks or requirements.
2. Providing Support to the Expectant Mother
Young women who are pregnant and Looked After are a particularly vulnerable group and should be referred by their social worker to appropriate agencies for support. Advice should be sought from partner agencies including Health and Education.
Expectant mothers who are Looked After may be in a variety of placements e.g. fostered; local residential; "out of authority" purchased care; at home; living independently, but all of them will have a case holder identified from within the Looked After Teams or Leaving Care Team, although other staff from within the Department may also be involved e.g.; Fostering Unit; residential staff. It is important that all relevant personnel are involved, from the beginning, in planning support for the expectant mother and baby.
3. Assessment of Needs of the Unborn child and Assessment of Needs of the Expectant Mother
In all cases, where a Looked After young woman becomes pregnant, a multi agency Strategy Meeting will be called by the case holder to determine if a Pre Birth Assessment is required. Due to the age and vulnerability of looked after young people it is anticipated that in the majority of cases the Strategy Meeting will identify the need for a Pre Birth Assessment. See also Pre-Birth Assessments.
If it is felt in the Strategy Meeting that a Pre Birth Assessment is not required, the young woman's social worker will still need to ensure all relevant agencies are involved in supporting her. The Single Assessment for the young woman should be updated to reflect this change in her Care Plan.
If a pre birth assessment is required, the case holder will make a referral to the relevant assessment team for a Pre Birth Assessment to be undertaken in respect of the needs of the unborn child.
If the young woman does not live in Bradford, discussion will be needed regarding which local authority will be most appropriate to undertake the Pre Birth Assessment. If the permanent plan is for the young woman to remain living away from Bradford, this should be discussed with the local authority assessment team in the area that she is living. However if the plan is for the young woman to return to Bradford it is anticipated that this assessment would be undertaken by a social worker from Bradford MDC.
The Pre Birth Assessment should be completed according to the following principles:
- Each new pregnancy, where there are, or may be, significant concerns regarding the unborn child, must be the subject of a new pre birth assessment, giving due regard to the history;
- The pre birth assessment process should begin as early in the pregnancy as is possible; but no later than 20 weeks;
- The purpose of a pre-birth assessment is:
- To consider whether additional support is needed to promote good enough parenting and plan accordingly;
- To determine the extent of risk to the forthcoming child;
- In conjunction with other relevant agencies, to formulate a plan in response to this risk.
Alongside the Pre Birth Assessment, the allocated worker will need to undertake an assessment of the young woman, as this pregnancy is likely to have an impact on their own Care Plan.
It is important that the workers undertaking the Pre Birth Assessment, work closely with the allocated worker for the young woman.
Where the outcome of the Pre Birth Assessment indicates that the situation can be managed via the provision of appropriate support services, that outcome should be presented to a Strategy meeting or Team Around the Child meeting that includes the young woman's allocated worker and the worker who has completed the Assessment. This meeting should include others such as health professionals who will b supporting the young parent.
Where the outcome of the Pre Birth Assessment indicates that there should be an Initial Child, and which may also include the possibility of care proceedings on the baby, then the case holder for the unborn child will convene an Initial Child Protection Conference and/ or initiate Public Law Outline procedures. It is important that throughout these processes there is close working between the young woman's allocated worker and the worker allocated to the unborn child.