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3.2.9 Mother and Baby Foster Placements

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This protocol is aimed at clarifying the role of the foster carer when a young woman who is Looked After becomes pregnant or becomes Looked After primarily because of her pregnancy.

This should be read in conjunction with the Protocol for Transfer between Practice Groups within Children’s Social Care, Pre- Birth Assessments, and section 11 Pregnancy of Young People in Care.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

NICE, Postnatal care up to 8 weeks after birth, (2015)

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in March 2017 by adding a link to NICE, Postnatal care up to 8 weeks after birth, (2015).


Contents

  1. Common Principles
  2. Where a Young Person is already Looked After
  3. Where a Young Person is Accommodated due to Pregnancy
  4. Where a Young Person is Accommodated from Hospital with a Baby
  5. Responsibility and Duty of Care
  6. Finance Guidance


1. Common Principles

Southwark believes in supporting young mothers who are looked after in foster placements to take responsibility and care for their babies

Southwark is committed to meeting the educational needs of young people who are looked after and to obtain day care for their babies as necessary

Southwark recognises that all babies need consistent parenting and where young mothers are unable to meet changing needs then legal intervention will be required. Safeguarding children is a priority

Southwark recognises that in order to successfully share care between foster carers and birth mothers, clear planning and good communication is essential to strong professional partnership working


2. Where a Young Person is already Looked After

2.1

When it is known that a young person is pregnant and intends keeping her child the following should be undertaken:

  1. Following the Protocol for Transfer between Practice Groups within Children’s Social Care, the referrer must ring for a consultation with the Pre- Birth Team. A decision can then be reached about the assessment process between the referring team and the Referral and Assessment Team;
  2. The young person's social worker must inform the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO). The IRO will decide whether or not to bring forward the date of the Looked After Review;
  3. Where it is decided that a Section 47 threshold is met and a Strategy Meeting is convened, a manager from the Adolescent and After Care Service (AAC) should be included. The AAC Service should provide a full written history and chronology of the young person either at the Strategy Meeting or within 14 days following it. The foster carer and supervising social worker need to be present at this meeting as the Care Plan will be considering what additional resources will be needed to support the young person through her pregnancy.
2.2 At the next Looked After Review, the position and capacity of the current foster carer to continuing caring for the young mother throughout her pregnancy needs to be established. Consideration must also be given to the future i.e. the position and capacity of the foster carer to look after a baby while the mother continues with her education. Where a foster carer is not in the position to offer full time day care to the baby, then alternative provision - either child-minding or nursery - needs to be explored by the young person's social worker.
2.3

Tasks, roles and responsibilities need to be reviewed with respect to all necessary health appointments, informing school of the pregnancy and what special arrangements may be necessary at school prior to the birth and to enable the young mother to sit exams.

Practical consideration for a baby's arrival - purchasing of items, room organisation, need for self care, need to establish basic shopping, cooking and laundry skills - needs to be discussed within timeframes.
2.4 Following the birth, a planning meeting is to be held within 7 days of the mother and baby returning to the foster home. A new foster placement agreement should be drawn up with the foster carer clearly identifying the status of the young mother and her child, the role and responsibilities of the foster carer and the financial arrangements for supporting the placement.
2.5 Review meetings will be held at intervals of 20 working days, not more than three months and not more than six months thereafter and then follow the mother's Looked After Review cycle.


3. Where a Young Person is Accommodated due to Pregnancy

3.1 A Single Assessment with full background history is required prior to the young person becoming accommodation or if an emergency, within 7 days of her becoming accommodated, in time for the Placement Planning Meeting. Any Section 47 Strategy Meetings will reflect 2.1(c) as written above.
3.2

At the Placement Planning Meeting, the health needs of the young person and the educational needs are to be identified.

The QA Unit is to be informed by the young person's social worker in order to arrange the first Looked After Review for the mother. Both the foster carer and a fostering manager need to be present at this meeting.
3.3 At the meeting the future position and capacity of the current foster carer to care for a baby while the young person continues education must be established. Where a foster carer is not in the position to offer full time care to a baby, then alternative provision - either child-minding or nursery - needs to be explored by the young person's social worker. Where additional finance will be necessary to provide child care, then representations will need to be made to the Placements Panel, (chaired by the Business Manager, CLA), prior to the birth for an "in principle" decision.
3.4 Tasks, roles and responsibilities are to be identified with respect to all necessary health appointments, who informs the expectant mother's school of the pregnancy and what special arrangements may be necessary at school prior to the birth and to enable the mother to take exams.
3.5

Following the birth, a planning meeting is to be held within 7 days of The mother and baby returning to the foster home. A new foster placement agreement should be drawn up with the foster carer clearly identifying the status of the young mother and her child, the role and responsibilities of the foster carer and the financial arrangements for supporting the placement.

Review meetings will be held at intervals of 20 working days, not more than three months and not more than six months thereafter and then follow mother's Looked After Review cycle.


4. Where a Young Person is Accommodated from Hospital with a Baby

A duty referral is required emphasising the expectations as to health and educational needs prior to placement. Where a placement can be offered but full-time day care cannot be provided by a foster carer then this must be agreed from the beginning.

If the placement is accepted then eventual alternative day care needs to be organised by the child's social worker. This may require a request for funding as in 3.3 above.


5. Responsibility and Duty of Care

Where a baby is living with a mother who is Looked After, it is the mother who has the legal responsibility while the foster carer has a duty of care. Usual house rules must apply and consideration given to who is and isn't allowed in the house and under what circumstances. Foster carers do need to be kept informed as to the mother and child's whereabouts outside the house and clear about timescales.

Where a foster carer is worried about a mother's ability to put the child's needs first, then this must be communicated to the foster carer's supervising social worker or Fostering Duty or Fostering Out of Hours Duty.


6. Finance Guidance

6.1 Child benefit

All mothers irrespective of age are entitled to claiming child benefit. Child benefit is for the child's needs. To assist a young mother in managing finance for her baby, the equivalent amount of child benefit will be transferred from the current amount payable from a child's personal allowance to the child's Trust Fund/bank account.

6.2 Under 16

Pre- Birth

The foster carer should receive the recommended Southwark fostering allowance

The young person can claim the Health in Pregnancy Grant, paid to all women who are 25 weeks or more pregnant to support a healthy lifestyle.

The young person will not be able to claim any other welfare benefits until they are 16. The responsible authority (that is the local authority responsible for the young person) should assume all financial responsibilities.

Any additional costs incurred by the young person or foster carer due to the pregnancy should be discussed by the young person, foster carer and young person's social worker. The discussion should include the purchasing of equipment in preparation for the baby's arrival, or to be bought once the baby is born. Decisions about all these costs should be recorded in the young person's care plan.

After the birth:

If the baby is not 'looked after' by the responsible authority but remains in placement with the foster carer, then a new foster placement agreement should be drawn up to clarify this situation as well as the financial arrangements.

Under these circumstances, the young parent can claim child benefit for their baby.

Some young parents may become eligible for a Sure Start maternity grant by reaching the age of 16 (and claiming income support) before their child is 3 months old. If the young parent is not eligible but the foster carer/household receives relevant benefits, the foster carer may be able to claim a Sure Start maternity grant on the young parent's behalf.

If no Sure Start grant is available, the local authority may need to provide additional funds.

Where a foster carer takes on day care then the full allowance for the child will be paid.

Where day care is not provided then the Fostering Maintenance element only will be paid for the child

Decisions about financial support should be included in the young parent's Care Plan and recorded in the Placement Plan/Agreement. The decisions should include who will receive these extra payments and how they are to be used.

6.3 16/17 year olds

16 and 17 year old single parents are an exception to the general rule that looked after young people cannot claim welfare benefits before the age of 18.

During pregnancy: Financial arrangements should be set out in the young person's Care Plan/ Pathway Plan and regularly reviewed. The foster carer continues to receive the fostering allowance. These payments should be clearly identified in the foster placement agreement.

The young person can make an application for income support eleven weeks before the birth of their child provided they are sixteen at the time of the application.

After the birth: from the age of 16, young parents are able to claim welfare benefits in their own right. The issue of their child's status remains relevant. A single young parent should continue to claim Income Support once the child is born (provided the child does not become Looked After by the responsible authority). The young parent may also be able to claim a Sure Start maternity grant for which income support is a qualifying benefit. The young parent can also claim child benefit and child tax credit for their child, provided the child is not 'looked after'.

All financial arrangements must be fully recorded in the young person's Pathway Plan.

Where a foster carer takes on day care then the full allowance for the child will be paid.

Where day care is not provided then the Fostering Maintenance element will be paid for the child

6.4 18 Year Olds

Southwark Fostering Service has no provision for mother and baby placements for mothers over 18 years of age

End