Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined as:
- Protecting children from maltreatment
- Preventing impairment of children’s health or development
- Ensuring children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care.
Child protection is a part of safeguarding and promoting welfare. It refers to the activity that is undertaken to protect all children who are suffering, or are likely to suffer, significant harm which includes the four types of abuse
The Children Acts of 1989 and 2004 gave a duty to all agencies and professionals to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Therefore safeguarding children is the responsibility of all hospital staff working with children and young people or their adult parents and carers. (Working Together to Safeguard Children, 2015).
A child is defined as being from birth until their eighteenth birthday (Children Act 1989).
The likelihood of significant harm to unborn children following their birth must be considered as soon as a risk is identified during pregnancy and action must be taken to ensure that the child is protected from birth. (NSPCC 2012).
If staff suspect that a child or young person may be at risk of abuse or neglect then the basis of their concerns need to be fully documented in a factual manner and appropriate action needs to be taken. In some cases this may involve making a referral to Children’s Social Care or the Police following discussion of their concerns with an appropriate senior colleague.
If a woman requires referral to Children’s Social Care it is good practice to communicate the fact that a referral is being made and why, to the parents or carers of a child or young person and to the young person themselves if they are of appropriate maturity. Exceptions to this would be if this would put the child or young person at greater risk of harm, if the member of staff considers that they would be at risk or in situations where the safeguarding concern is about induced or fabricated illness, forced marriage or honour based violence.
All staff within the organisation have a duty to co-operate with Children’s Social Care and the Police when they are undertaking a Child Protection Enquiry or investigating a serious crime. This includes the sharing of information about relevant past contact and involvement as well as the outcome of formal Child Protection assessments.
Depending on the issues of concern a Strategy Meeting may be convened or the case may go straight to Case Conference. Pre-birth Assessments may be required and if the conference decides on a Child Protection Plan, a Birth Plan will be agreed either at the Conference or at the Core Group.
If the woman is a vulnerable young person herself a referral may be made to the Teenage Pregnancy Team/Midwife. Additionally the substance misuse midwife may also need to make urgent referrals at any stage of pregnancy.
Within the hospital, midwives may make a referral to Children’s Social Care, this is normally following discussion with the community midwife, safeguarding midwife or co-ordinator on for the shift.
The safeguarding children midwife ensures that any Plans/Conference minutes are placed in the hospital maternity notes and the unborn baby notes. She also is available during normal working hours for advice and liaison often contacted by Children’s Social Care, midwives or health visitors regarding unborn babies and newly delivered babies.
Case Reviews are held if an issue needs discussion and a change of practice implemented. For babies born from out of area plans are placed in the notes. Discussion takes place with the safeguarding midwife. Appropriate plans are placed in the medical notes and liaison with the social worker and allocated community midwife takes place.