Draft guidelines to help improve practice when the state acts to safeguard a baby at birth have been published by Nuffield Family Justice Observatory (Nuffield FJO) and are being tested for feasibility in sites across England and Wales.
When the state intervenes to safeguard a baby at or close to birth, it is traumatic for birth parents and painful for professionals. When the safeguarding action results in parent and baby separation, this can be a life-changing course of action with many inherent and unresolved ethical and practice dilemmas. There is a need for more national guidance for professionals working in children’s social care, health services and the courts to ensure best practice.
In response, Nuffield FJO has published a draft set of best practice guidelines, developed through a collaborative research study involving professionals and parents in eight local authorities and seven corresponding NHS trusts in England and Wales. Part of Nuffield FJO’s Born into Care series, the work has been led by the Centre for Child & Family Justice Research at Lancaster University and the Rees Centre at Oxford University.
The guidelines are being published and tested for feasibility against a backdrop of a rising number of newborn babies being subject to care proceedings in England and Wales – with numbers more than doubling over the last decade.