SS Pre Birth Assessment

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Popsicle
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2018 10:13 am

SS Pre Birth Assessment

Post by Popsicle » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:57 am

Hi. My 17 year old pregnant daughter has had a pre-birth assessment from social services. This is due to her having her first child placed in my care under an SGO because of her drug and alcohol misuse and also some mental health issues due to a trauma years before.
The father of the baby has his own issues with violence and substance misuse and it has been agreed that when the baby is born he is unable to have unsupervised contact.
The assessment was done on both parents based on them not being together but now it has come to light that they have both lied about their relationship, they are together and he has been staying with her. This is against the social workers advice.
My daughter believes that her mental health is better now and there has been no substance misuse since she became pregnant.
She is sticking by her partner even though she knows they can’t be together and look after the baby. They are now going to be re assessed as a couple and I am scared that they will fail and I will end up looking after her second child. She has only 3 weeks to go until the baby is here.
Does anyone have any experience or advice? Many thanks.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 532
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: SS Pre Birth Assessment

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Mar 18, 2019 1:05 pm

Dear Popsicle

Welcome to FRG’s family and friends carers’ discussion board and thank you for posting.

Your 17 year old daughter is due to give birth to her second child very soon. You are already caring for your daughter’s first baby under a Special Guardianship Order (SGO) and are worried that you will have to look after her second baby too.

This must be a very difficult and distressing time for you. Your daughter and her partner are now having a joint assessment as they are remaining in a relationship against the social worker’s advice although it has already been recommended that the baby’s father cannot have unsupervised contact with the baby once he or she is born.

The expectant parents were assessed individually when they maintained that they were separated. Was your daughter’s assessment positive at that time? You mention that she believes that her mental health has improved – do you know if the professionals involved agree with that or are there still concerns?

From what you say, it seems unlikely that the couple assessment will be positive due to the concerns about the baby’s father’ violence (does this include domestic violence to your daughter or to another partner?), the current recommendation of no unsupervised contact for father and also the fact that the couple have not been honest about their relationship and have mislead professionals. It may well be that your daughter has a better chance of keeping her baby as a single parent, perhaps with your or other family support. We have specialist materials about domestic violence which may be relevant to your daughter.

I am guessing that there is already a pre-birth child protection plan for the unborn baby and that the case may be in public law outline pre-proceedings . If so, I hope both parents are working with their individual solicitors to understand and address the concerns and put forward all the possible options. This could include a residential assessment or, if they separate, a mother and baby unit for your daughter and the baby.

Here is some information on assessments and pre-proceedings which might be helpful and our young parent advice materials may be particularly useful for your daughter and also perhaps for you. Now is the time for your daughter and her partner to be making decisions and focussing on what they can do to put the baby’s needs first and to work with the professional core group to make the changes that are needed. This information on care proceedings is especially important. Your daughter should be aware that a baby can be adopted if neither parent is able to safely care for them and if there is no suitable family member or connected person either who can safely care for them. This film by Just for Kids Law offers advice to young expectant parents when there is a risk of their child going into care.

You are right that children’s services are likely to be looking to you, or other family members (including the father’s family) to either support the parent(s) to care for the baby or if it is decided that that is not safe for the baby, to care for the baby instead. They are legally required to look to family members and where possible to try to keep siblings together so they should be exploring this. However, that does not mean that you have to do this if you are not able to, although I do understand that you may feel very pressurised.

There may be a family group conference to help explore the family network. This can help identify the key people in the family as well as what the legal options and support available might be. It is best if this happens sooner rather than later.

If you were asked and did agree to care for the baby, temporarily while decisions were being made, you would need to have a viability assessment first. Here is some helpful information on the viability assessment process.

It is usually best if you are treated as a kinship foster carer so that there are proper plans put in place and also so that you receive the right support including a fostering allowance. If you were then asked to and willing to care for the baby permanently this would most likely be under a SGO. It is really important that you are properly involved in any decisions (you could apply for permission to be party to court proceedings ) and ask for help getting legal advice and that you are properly supported if you are involved in caring for the baby.

You are probably worried that the responsibility for caring for the baby will be imposed upon you, especially as you are caring for the unborn baby’s sibling already. As you have already been through the process of being assessed and obtaining a SGO for your grandchild you probably have a good idea of what to expect. I don’t know what the experience was like for you and whether you were offered legal advice, given proper information or well-supported or not.

If your main worries are about support then there are steps you can take to insist that this is taken seriously, as described above. You also should have a copy of the local authority’s family and friends’ care policy – you may be able to find a copy here. Our advice sheets on special guardianship and support for family and friends carers from children’s services and social security support for relatives and friends looking after someone else's children are also quite informative.

If your worries are not about support but that realistically it is not possible for you and your family to care for another child, if your daughter cannot care for her own baby, then of course you can decline. However, if there are other family or connected people who could be considered then please do encourage them to come forward to be assessed so that where possible the baby can be safely cared for in their family network, if their parent(s) cannot. If the baby is adopted this will sever the legal link between them and your family and, in most cases, there is no further direct contact.

The situation is very difficult. It may be that other grandparents or family members who have been in a similar situation can offer their advice or the benefit of their experience.

You are also very welcome to post again – with an update on what’s happening and to ask any further queries – or if you prefer, please do contact our Freephone advice helpline on 0808 801 0366 Mon – Fri 9.30 to 3.00 to speak to an adviser.

I hope everything goes well with the birth of the baby.

With best wishes

Suzie

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