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Will my baby be removed from me at birth?

View profile for Jasmine Lees
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A recent study by Nuffield Family Justice Observatory found that the number of care proceedings in England which involved newborn babies increased by 20%. Between 2012 and 2020, the number of newborn babies subject to care proceedings rose from 2425 to 2914.[1]

Where the Local Authority have safeguarding concerns about a child in a parent or carer’s care, they may take steps to issue care proceedings for a protective order to safeguard the child. Usually prior to this step, the Local Authority work with the family to determine what steps can be put into place to mitigate any concerns and may impose stringent safety plans or written agreements to ensure the child’s safety.

However, the Local Authority may be alerted to safeguarding concerns prior to a child’s birth. The referrals may come to the Local Authority’s attention either from a concerned family member or friend, a member of the public, the police or usually a medical professional such as a midwife / health visitor.

Following a referral, the Local Authority may complete a Section 47 investigation to determine if the child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. When considering significant harm, the Local Authority will consider the risk of neglect, physical, emotional and sexual harm. They may determine that the unborn baby needs to be placed on a Child Protection Plan and/or that the Local Authority need to enter a period of Pre-Proceedings which means that the concerns are serious and they are considering taking the matter to Court.

During this period, the Local Authority may ask the parents to engage in a number of assessments:

  • Pre-birth parenting assessments
  • Risk assessments
  • Cognitive assessments
  • Psychological or Psychiatric assessments
  • Drug and Alcohol Testing

If as a result of these assessments, the Local Authority feel that any risks to the baby cannot be managed by support or safety plans then they may decide to issue care proceedings. When issuing care proceedings, it does not mean that the Local Authority’s plan will always be for removal of the baby from the parent’s care under an Interim Care Order. If the Court grant an Interim Care Order then this means that the Local Authority share parental responsibility for the child with their parents. The Local Authority may also apply to the Court for an Interim Supervision Order and they will not share parental responsibility with the parents if this is the case.

An Interim Supervision Order is usually applied for by the Local Authority when they feel that the child is safe to remain in the care of their parent or an approved family member without the need to hold parental responsibility for the child. The purpose of an Interim Supervision Order is to “advise assist and befriend” the child and by extension their carer to ensure that they are supported.

The Court has a range of options available to them when determining if a newborn baby or a child should remain in their parent’s care. They may order residential assessments, parent and child foster placement, the supervision of parent’s care by another person subject to strict safety plans amongst other strategies and orders.

How Johnson Astills can help

We understand that the Local Authority being involved with your children can be very stressful especially whilst pregnant and that is why we are here to help and provide advice. We have experience in assisting parents at all stages of Local Authority involvement. Please contact  Johnson Astills at either our Leicester Office on 0116 255 4855 or our Loughborough Office on 01509 610 312 and ask for a member of the Care Team so that we can advise you accordingly. Alternatively, please email us on careteam@johnsonastills.com  and a member of our team will be happy to assist you.