These draft guidelines aim to inform multi-agency practice when the state takes safeguarding action at birth. The guideline statements are based on the findings from a study that analysed qualitative data concerning state intervention at birth, from the lived experiences of parents and professionals. They are published as part of the Born into Care series. The guidelines inform practice in the pre-birth period and at birth, including a first court hearing in care proceedings. They also cover immediate follow-up following discharge from hospital for the group of parents who are separated from their babies at birth.
These draft guidelines are being piloted with partner research sites in England and Wales between January ad August 2022. This document should therefore be treated as a draft, with a view to finalisation later in 2022.
By Claire Mason, Karen Broadhurst, Harriet Ward, Anna Barnett and Lisa Holmes.
Published by the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory.
Birth Companions' comment on the publication of the Born into Care research and draft guidelines:
The number of newborns in care proceedings and the number of removals that take place shortly after birth with little or no notice has risen. These are traumatic events for everyone involved with serious implications for the outcomes of mothers, babies, families and the professionals who work with them.
The latest research in the Born into Care series from the Centre for Child and Family Justice Research and Nuffield Family Justice Observatory is a real opportunity to build understanding and drive improvements in the care offered to pregnant women and mothers during their contact with the maternity and social care systems.
At Birth Companions we are proud to have played a part in this research, with staff and several members of our Lived Experience Team sitting on the advisory boards. This work would not have the same strength, credibility or potential to drive meaningful change had it not been shaped so fundamentally by the involvement of women who have faced separation from their babies. Their bravery and commitment in choosing to share those experiences in order to help others is to be commended.
We look forward to helping ensure the learning presented in this project is taken up across social work, maternity and beyond, with real ambition. In particular, the draft guidelines published today should play a central role in informing and shaping professional practice. We will be involved in the further development of these guidelines over the coming months.