WSCP: Safeguarding Babies Initiative
Over 4600 babies have been born in Worcestershire since the beginning of this year. These families will all have faced additional pressures brought about by the restrictions on daily lives over the last nine months, adding to what can already be a challenging time. As these restrictions continue, Worcestershire Safeguarding Children Partnership has recognised the disproportionate impact this is having on those with babies in the home, who will often rely more than most on social contact and the support of others to help at a busy time in any family’s life. Unfortunately, this contact has been made more difficult during the pandemic, and the impact of this is now being seen. In the first nine months of 2020 the Worcestershire Family Front Door has received 682 concerns relating to children under one year old, an increase of 36% on the same period last year. This trend is in line with national data which also indicates an increase in instances of serious harm being caused to babies during the pandemic in other parts of the country.
Those with babies in the home may be feeling increasingly isolated from the support that would be available from family and friends in more normal times. As such, family members or friends of those with babies in the home are being asked to make that extra effort to stay in touch and where possible offer that little additional support that my make all the difference to parents or carers who might be struggling, whilst accepting the need to observe the current guidelines and restrictions on visits to other households.
The partnership is also doing all it can to support these parents. A number of agencies are involved in visiting as many families with babies as possible to make sure they have the support they need, or they know where to go to access it. In addition, staff from Worcestershire Children First are working hard to support those who are already known to agencies, and local health services are available for those who feel they need additional support or advice.
In recognising that safeguarding is everyone’s business, all professionals and volunteers who may have contact with families where there are babies within the home should be alert to the potential for increased risk to those children as a result of mounting pressures in the home environment. We would urge anyone who is currently working with a family with babies or small children to be extra vigilant to any sign of stress within that household or a deteriorating level of care for the child. Should you have such concerns then it is important that you discuss them with the safeguarding lead for your organisation in the first instance, or where you believe that child may be at immediate or serious risk, you contact the Worcestershire Family Front Door on 01905 822666.
There are also services and providers who can offer early help, advice and support to parents, carers and families who may be struggling. These services would welcome your call, and contact details are provided below. In these exceptional times, parents and carers should feel able to use those additional opportunities provided by local services, and anyone who feels they would benefit are urged to use the contact details provided and talk to someone who can provide that advice and support.
Health Visitor Telephone Advice Service – 0300 123 9551 https://www.startingwellworcs.nhs.uk/
All those having contact with families and children have access to a wide range of support services via the Worcestershire Children First Early Help Family Support offer, which can be found via the link below.
We would also like to remind professionals that within the West Midlands Child Protection Procedures, Worcestershire has a comprehensive set of resources that can support those working with families in identifying and dealing with concerns.
Finally, ‘A Day in My Life: Baby’ is a resource which provides a list of things for professionals to think about when assessing the appropriateness of the daily routine of a baby.