National review into babies seriously harmed or killed by their father or male carer.
Today the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel published their third national review, which looks at safeguarding children under 1 year old from non-accidental injury by their father or male carer.
The key findings show that while maternal health and wellbeing are, and should be, the main focus of maternity services, insufficient attention to men means that support for them to be active and engaged fathers is limited. The Panel is calling for universal, antenatal and perinatal services to work with fathers so significant risk factors, such as domestic abuse, substance misuse, and mental health problems, are addressed and the fathers are offered support before the additional stressor of a baby’s birth.
Specific mention is given to the key leadership role of child protection conference chairs and independent reviewing officers:
17.2. Some of the babies in the review were subject to children in need and child protection planning and those plans and associated meetings must maximise the engagement of fathers whenever possible – with necessary safety planning when required. Child protection conference chairs and independent reviewing officers have a key leadership role in overseeing this work operationally and ensuring plans speak to the needs and responsibilities of fathers.– The Child Safguarding Practice Review Panel, 16th September 221
The review makes the following recommendations for the government:
- the engagement of fathers must be embedded in prospective and current programmes, including Family Hubs, the Troubled Families Programme and the follow-up work stemming from the Leadsom Review into ‘Best Start for Life: A vision for the first 1001 critical days’
- a pilot project should be funded to holistically work with expecting fathers who meet the risk factors outlined in this review, providing them with perinatal health provision, local mental health and substance misuse services, and local initiatives to tackle domestic abuse, in a collective and integrated service response
- there should be further research into the backgrounds, characteristics and trigger factors of male perpetrators of serious harm, with a view to understanding how practitioners across agencies can more effectively engage with those who might present a potential risk to babies in their care
The Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel is an independent body that was set up in July 2018 to identify, commission and oversee reviews of serious child safeguarding cases. It brings together experts from social care, policing and health to provide a multi-agency view on cases which they believe raise issues that are complex, or of national importance.
Also published today are supplementary reports, which underpin the data and analysis: