||Children's Social Care should convene a multi-agency meeting within 10 days of the referral to consider concerns for an unborn baby and to initiate a pre-birth core assessment and any other specialist assessments.
||An up to date chronology and genogram must be provided for this meeting.
If it is suspected that the baby is likely to suffer significant harm this should be in the form of a Strategy Discussion chaired by a Children Services line manager and involve a:
- Community midwife;
- Maternity services manager;
- Health visitor;
- Police officer;
- Social worker;
- Other professions as appropriate e.g. obstetricians, mental health services, probation;
- Where required, a legal advisor.
||Legal advice should be obtained, and recorded, where there have been care proceedings on a child in the household of either parent.
This strategy discussion should determine:
- Cause for concern and the potential impact on the care provided to the baby;
- Particular requirements of the pre-birth assessment;
- Whether a Section 47 Enquiry is to be initiated;
- Role and responsibilities of agencies and specialists in the assessment e.g. involvement of expert in substance misuse if applicable;
- Role and responsibilities of agencies to provide support before and after the birth;
- Identity of responsible social worker to ensure planning and communication of information;
- Timescales for the assessments and enquiries, bearing in mind the expected date off delivery;
- How and when parent/s are to be informed of the concerns;
- Required action by ward staff when the baby is born;
- The need for a pre-birth conference, or (where this will depend on the outcome of assessments) establish the date by which this decision must be made, given timescales in - 'Timing of Conference' in Section 2, Types of Child Conferences, of the Child Protection Conferences Procedure.
||The assessment plan must be consistent with standards required for possible court proceedings, including clear letters of instruction.
||Parents should be informed as soon as possible of concerns and need for assessment, except on the rare occasions when medical guidance advice suggests this may be harmful to the health of the unborn baby and/or mother.