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OxfordshireChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Assessment of an (Unborn) Child of a Young Person who is Looked After, Leaving Care or in whom there is Substantial Social Care/YOS Involvement


Assessments Procedure


Postnatal care: NICE clinical guideline 37

This chapter was added to the manual in May 2018.

  • Where a parent and his/her (unborn) child are (prospective) service users, and in particular where corporate parenting responsibilities, or a youth justice order, exist in relation to the parent as a Looked After Young Person, care-leaver or young offender, the children's social care and youth offending teams will actively promote the welfare of the (unborn) child and the parent;
  • There should be separate but linked assessments and plans for the parent and the (unborn) child;
  • A separate social care record should be opened for the (unborn) child at the earliest possibility;
  • As long as circumstances permit, the pre-birth assessment should be started sufficiently early in pregnancy to enable an effective Care Plan for the baby to be implemented;
  • Assessments and planning for the (unborn) child should be undertaken by a separate Children's Social Care social worker from the parent's social worker, involving the relevant professionals for the child, including the parent's key worker. The (unborn) child's assessment should be informed by the assessment and planning in the parent's case;
  • In the case of an unborn baby, the Children's Social Care Team Manager with responsibility for the parent's case should liaise with the hospital assessment team manager to ensure that the pre-birth assessment is allocated within the hospital team. In the event that the parent is moving across boundaries, the team manager should ensure that the pre-birth case is referred quickly and not held open without active assessment or support being provided;
  • In the case of a 'live' child, the Children's Social Care Team Manager with responsibility for the parent's case should liaise with the relevant Children's Multi Agency Safeguarding Team Manager to ensure that the child's assessment is allocated a separate social worker within the Assessment Team;
  • An assessment of an unborn child should be guided by Assessment of Risk in the Ante- and Peri-natal Period' Guidance and should be recorded as a Child Protection Assessment;
  • The (unborn) child's assessment and plan should not only be informed by the assessment of the parent who is known to services, but should include a full assessment of any other young person or adult who has, or intends to establish, Parental Responsibility;
  • Regular liaison should take place between the key social workers or other lead professionals involved in the whole family;
  • Where the threshold for a Child Protection Conference is met for the unborn baby, this should be held, circumstances permitting, at least one month before the estimated date of delivery;
  • Where the (unborn) child is the subject of a Child Protection Conference or Looked After, the Independent chair/Reviewing Officer must be different from the parent's Independent chair/Reviewing Officer. However, the IC/IRO for the parent should attend the conferences or reviews held on the (unborn) child, in order to ensure the plans for the parent(s) and the child are coherent, realistic and take into account the vulnerabilities of both parties;
  • The key worker for the parent should attend all core group meetings held in respect of the child;
  • In all cases where there is substantial service-involvement with the parent, the local authority's legal panel should be consulted early in regard to the assessment and planning for the (unborn) child to consider whether the threshold for proceedings is met/likely to be met, and to consider whether a pre-proceedings approach is necessary (most particularly at the pre-birth stage);
  • Statutory and legal interventions in respect of the (unborn) child are likely to raise considerable anxiety in the parent and may increase his/her vulnerability. The child's key social worker should ensure that the parent's key worker is kept appraised in a timely way of the authority's actions and the parent's responses.