Birth Companions’ response to the updates to Working Together to Safeguard Children 2023
The Department for Education has published an updated version of Working Together to Safeguard Children, following consultation earlier this year. This statutory guidance sets out roles and responsibilities for individuals and organisations in providing support to families; safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children; and child protection.
Birth Companions submitted a response to the consultation, largely focused on the need for the proposed update to include much stronger emphasis on families with babies and infants, including working with women during pregnancy. We also highlighted the need for a clear commitment to trauma-informed approaches, and for urgent improvement in the way social care teams support women in prison who are at risk of separation or separated from a baby during time in custody.
While we welcome the strengthened focus on working with families and multi-agency approaches, including with prison and probation services, we are disappointed that the updated version does not go far enough on the points we raised. The period from conception to a child’s second birthday, referred to as the ‘critical 1001 days’, is recognised by HM Government in its Best Start for Life vision; and pregnancy and maternity are recognised as protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, yet today's updated guidance does not take account of this. We will be working with DfE and others to ensure that a strong focus on this critical period, and a more universally trauma-informed approach, are built into future policy and guidance.
Read Birth Companions’ Birth Charter for women with involvement from children’s social care, which includes recommendations for a joint national health and social care pathway to improve support for pregnant women, mothers and babies.