Pre-birth assessments

Once it is agreed that a pre-birth assessment is required there is a need for this to be completed in good time before the birth and where possible with the consent of the parents to be.

Meet with the family

Once the decision is made that a pre-birth assessment is required, there is a need to meet with the parents to be and any other relevant family members (unless to do so would increase the risk to the unborn child).

At this meeting there should be discussion about the following:

Pre-birth meeting

Following meeting with the family, a pre-birth multi-agency meeting should be held to:

The meeting will be chaired by either the team manager or deputy team manager of the Assessment and Intervention Team. All agencies who are involved should be represented (e.g. Midwifery), as should all agencies who may become involved (e.g. Police Public Protection Unit, Health Visiting).

Pre-birth assessment

Should a decision be made that a pre-birth assessment is required, this will include a case chronology being constructed which will take into consideration any previous pregnancies or full term births and any involvement from professionals this evoked.

The assessment should include formal agency checks and provision of relevant information by the midwife about previous pregnancies, medical history and information from the first booking-in meeting. This information should be gathered prior to the main assessment being undertaken. The assessment should follow the format on the template at the bottom of the page.

Child protection concerns

Should the pre-birth assessment highlight areas of child protection concern, consideration will be given to convening a pre-birth child protection case conference. Should there be other children in the family subject to child protection registration, this will always take place.

The timescales for calling an initial child protection case conference will sometimes be less critical regarding an unborn child. Nevertheless, initial child protection case conferences should be held no later than five weeks before the baby's expected delivery date or as soon as possible before the baby is born if the referral is received too late for this to be viable.

An Unborn Baby Child Protection Conference will not normally be convened before the 24th week of pregnancy, but will normally be held before 30th week of pregnancy. The first review will be held within one month of the child's birth or three months of the initial conference, whichever is sooner.

The initial conference should be called in accordance with the child protection guidelines that apply to all children if there is a likelihood of harm.

If the decision is that the threshold for registration is met, the first core group meeting should be before the birth of the baby and must be before the baby is discharged home after birth.

If the risks are too great ...

If the level of concern is such that it is deemed that the risk to the baby post birth cannot be managed by way of a child protection plan, a legal threshold planning meeting will be convened within the Health and Social Services Department with appropriate consideration to the urgency required. This will allow legal advice to be obtained about other steps required to secure the safety of the unborn baby following birth.