Welcome to Family Rights Group’s Parents’ Discussion Board and thank you for your post.
First of all, congratulations on your partner’s pregnancy.
I can see that as well as being excited about the baby you are both understandably worried as children’s services are now involved and you are concerned about what this will mean for your family.
As you have not yet met the social worker you probably have not been given any real information about why they need to be involved and what to expect. Hopefully, we can provide you with some understanding of what to think about so that you can prepare.
The social worker will probably explain that they are planning to undertake an assessment
; this will be undertaken pre-birth as your baby has not yet been born. They will want to assess whether they think you can look after your baby when they are born.
The assessment will look at any risk factors including those present now and those which affected you in the past. It should also take account of what is going well for you as individuals and as a family. It should also involve those other agencies who are or will become involved with you and the baby.
From your post you seem to be quite open and aware of the issues which professionals may be concerned will impact on your ability to care for your baby safely.
• Your partner lost the care of her 2 children who she now sees under supervised arrangements. One of the children suffered injuries when they were very young.
• She is a survivor of domestic violence.
• There have been a number of incidents in your current relationship and during your partner’s pregnancy where each of you was injured. Your partner called the police once.
• You both had difficult childhoods and have mental health needs.
• You have a limited support network.
• You have struggled with alcohol use and overdoses in the past.
You have also identified the progress you have both made and services which have helped.
• You and your partner are positive about her pregnancy and have been preparing for the baby’s arrival.
• Your partner completed a domestic violence course.
• You no longer drink or smoke and have not overdosed recently.
• You are working well with your CPN.
• You are linked in to your church community.
Although you are not on good terms with the mother of your 3 children you don’t mention any social work involvement so hopefully there were no concerns about your parenting or relationships?
It will be very important for you to find a way to cooperate with the assessment and the professionals involved with your family, even though this may be challenging. Of course, they should also work in an open and transparent way with you. You may be asked to take steps to address concerns and it will be important that you understand what they are and that you seek advice (including legal advice if necessary) about how to make any changes you are asked to do.
You are particularly worried that your baby will be removed from your care.
We have a FAQ on what you can do when you (or your partner) are pregnant and have had previous children removed
which summarises some of the main areas of advice.
There are some tips here on working with a social worker
which you might find helpful.
It will be important not to minimise concerns including around domestic violence. One of the things professionals may be worried about is that domestic violence can begin or escalate during pregnancy. Accessing the right support or services in a timely way can make a difference. We have domestic violence information
I suggest you have a look at our advice sheets on family support
(which explains more about assessments), child protection
(which explains the process which follows if there are concerns that a child may be at risk of significant harm) advocacy
(which might be particularly important as you both have complex needs) and care proceedings
Although your support system is limited, you might still want to think about whether your friends, church community or family members could offer support to help you and your partner care for your baby or if they could care for the baby if you are unable to. One way of doing this is via a family group conference
which you can find out more about in our family group conference advice sheet
or family group conference film
You will probably have more questions once the assessment of your baby’s needs is underway. Please do post again or ring our freephone advice helpline on 0808 8010366 Mon-Fri 9.30 to 3.00 pm to speak to an adviser if that would help.