5.1.17 Pre Birth Planning for Care Leavers and Looked After Young People


NOTE: Whilst Looked After Children is a national term and will be used throughout these tri.x procedures for ease of understanding, please be aware that in Sheffield we use the term Children Looked After. This is in line with the requests of children who access the service.


SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This protocol applies to all workers that are working with looked after and care leaver young women who are pregnant. It also relates to prospective fathers who are looked after or a care leaver. Fathers should always be included in any assessments even if they are no longer in a relationship.

RELATED CHAPTERS

For Section 47 Enquiries in general see the procedure on Section 47 Enquiries and Pre-Birth Assessment Procedure.

Where there are concerns regarding substance misuse, the following procedures must also be followed - Sheffield Children Safeguarding Partnership, Pregnant Women and Babies where there is Substance Misuse (MAPLAG) Procedure.

AMENDMENT

In May 2018, this chapter was reviewed, and minor amendments were made in line with local practice and terminology.

1. Introduction

This protocol does not replace current procedures and processes in relation to unborn children, however, it provides a variation in respect of the possible need for early intervention with our most vulnerable young people.

Some looked after young people and care leavers will make a positive decision to have a child and go on to become good parents, some may need extra support or others may experience difficulties. For the majority of young parents in Britain they do have the support of family and friends. For looked after young people and care leavers this isn't always the case and therefore Sheffield Local Authority keep this in mind and want to offer help.

Because of the experiences that they have had themselves these groups of young people can be particularly fearful of any assessment processes. When it is deemed that a pre-birth assessment is needed it is crucial that the unborn child and their parent's social workers (or Personal Advisor) from social care are working closely together to ensure that there is consistency. Additional thought needs to be given about support to the young person if the baby cannot remain in the parents care.

2. Principles

The principles that underpin this protocol are:

  • To ensure that the young person is appropriately supported through the pregnancy and into parenthood;
  • Continuity of service provision to the child/young person in facilitating a joint assessment process underpinned by a one service ethos, when a pre-birth assessment is deemed necessary;
  • To set standards of good practice;
  • To ensure consistency in management decision making, systems and processes;
  • The need to acknowledge that prospective fathers are given the same level of assessment etc. to enable them to parent together or individually.

To ensure that Pre Birth assessments are clear and transparent for families, please refer to the Pre-Birth Assessment Procedure and also the Integrated Care Pathway (Sheffield Children Safeguarding Partnership Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures).

3. Process

3.1 Looked After Children

The social worker allocated to the looked after child will undertake an updated single assessment at the point of being informed of the pregnancy. This should be completed as soon as the pregnancy is known to allow for a plan to be formulated in relation to the Looked After Child (for example, in relation to any need to change placement, or parenting support) but also for a decision to be reached in relation to any need for referrals for the unborn baby.

There are differing reasons that the unborn baby may need to be referred to the Safeguarding Hub, this could be to access early help, additional support or to explore the need for a Child in Need or Child Protection Plan. Any referral to the Safeguarding Hub should use the assessment as the information and rationale for why it is being made.

If the unborn child is referred to the Safeguarding Hub and it is accepted that they require their own Social Worker – then both the Looked After Child and the unborn child should have different Social Workers. They should work in close collaboration with each other and other professionals involved to ensure that both parent and child's needs can be fully met.

3.2 Care Leavers

As soon as the personal advisor becomes aware that the young person is pregnant they will need to complete an updated Pathway Plan. The personal advisor allocated to the care leaver will need to undertake this as soon as they become aware of the pregnancy to allow for a plan to be formulated in relation to the Care Leaver (for example, in relation to any need to change accommodation, or parenting support) but also for a decision to be reached in relation to any need for referrals for the unborn baby.

There are differing reasons that the unborn baby may need to be referred to the Safeguarding Hub, this could be to access early help, additional support or to explore the need for a Child in Need or Child Protection Plan. Any referral to the Safeguarding Hub should use the Pathway Plan as the information and rationale for why it is being made.

If the unborn child is referred to the Safeguarding Hub and it is accepted that they require their own Social Worker – then both the Personal Advisor for the Care Leaver and the Social Worker for the unborn child should work in close collaboration with each other and other professionals involved to ensure that both parent and child's needs can be fully met.

3.3 Assessments, Plans and Meetings

If the threshold for social care intervention has been agreed for the unborn baby, then they will be opened to Social Care usually under a Child in Need Plan to allow for a pre birth assessment to take place.

See also: Pre-Birth Assessment Procedure.

It is expected that the Integrated Care Pathway (Sheffield Children Safeguarding Partnership Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures) will be followed.

There will be separate visits and meetings that take place for both the Looked after child or Care Leaver or the unborn child. It needs to be made clear to all participants (family members and professionals) the aims of the visits and or/meetings to ensure that there is no confusion.