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Agenda item

Pre-Birth Intervention Service


The Committee received a report of the Corporate Director of Children and Young People’s Services which provided an update on the work undertaken by the Pre-birth Intervention team to improve pre-birth work across children’s services and a presentation was received from the Strategic Manager, Families First North (for copies see file of minutes).


The Committee received a presentation which highlighted the danger of neglect, the affect and the cycle of parents who had children removed into the care system, more likely to have emotional, environmental and mental health difficulties as adults and therefore were more at risk of having vulnerable children.  It highlighted the benefits of a pre-birth intervention service, the service delivery and numbers of referrals, including a number of case studies from pregnancy to birth.


Councillor Brookes queried the proportion of parents who were successful in legally challenging care proceedings and also whether the Council had to take legal control of children who had been placed with parents or relatives.  The Strategic Manager, Families First North, confirmed that there was a legal framework but the pre-birth service would expect that unless there was a clear indication that the baby would be able to remain in the care of the parents, that pre-proceedings would take place.  Parents were able to receive legal aid and consideration was given very early in the pregnancy which enabled legal advice to be sought and this ensured there was a very clear plan in place when a baby was born.  There was an opportunity to use Legal Orders, which were used more in the South however, there was nothing to be gained from such as the relationship in Durham between families’ and professionals in the pre-birth service tended to be strong enough for engagement and orders were therefore only necessary should a child be unable to remain with the family.


Councillor Hopper queried how vulnerable adults who had already had children removed, were supported in making more positive choices in future.  The Strategic Manager, Families First North, confirmed that parents were encouraged to engage with multi-agency professionals on a range of issues that may have led to them being unable to care for their children.


Councillor Smith confirmed that there had been some positive changes over the years and as a retired paediatrician she had experienced occasions when the first intervention with vulnerable families were when women were admitted to hospital labour wards.  The Strategic Manager, Families First North, confirmed that work from the pre-birth service would be passed to the families first teams if the relevant criteria was demonstrated.


Councillor Kennedy referred to the Pause group which worked with women to prevent repeated pregnancies which would result in children being removed from care.  The Strategic Manager, Families First North, confirmed that to be eligible for the programme women had to commit to an 18 month plan which included long-term contraception, but the idea was to work towards a more positive future and make more positive choices.




That the report and presentation be noted.


Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714