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5.28 Abandoned Babies

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in February 2015 to clarify further the immediate action with regard to an abandoned baby and roles of key professionals.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Strategy Meeting
  3. Medical Assessment
  4. Care Planning Meeting
  5. Tracing of Parents
  6. Child Protection Conference


1. Introduction

An abandoned baby is a baby who has been left in a public or private place without an adult assuming responsibility for the baby, where the baby's identity, at the point of being discovered, is unknown.

At the point of identifying that a baby has been abandoned, the primary concern is to ensure that the baby's health needs are immediately addressed. An abandoned baby could be at risk of hypothermia, hypoglycaemia and consequently at risk of brain damage if they are not managed appropriately. The baby should be removed to Royal Liverpool Children's Hospital, Alder Hey Children's Hospital via ambulance, or, depending on the baby's presentation, the nearest hospital with paediatric / neonatal services to where the baby was discovered.

Health professionals will take responsibility for assessing the immediate health needs of the baby; Children's Social Care will seek legal advice and take responsibility for co-ordinating the immediate care arrangements and the police will take lead responsibility in the investigation to trace the birth parent/s.

At the point of identifying that a baby has been abandoned the Police, Children's Social Care and the Designated Nurse for Safeguarding Children should be informed.


2. Strategy Meeting

A Strategy Meeting should be convened to consider the circumstances of the baby's discovery and any information known about or left with the baby that may contribute to the investigation to trace birth parent/s and or discover the age and identity of the baby.

The Strategy Meeting should be convened within 48 hours of the baby being discovered. Any delay beyond 48 hours should be agreed between the agencies and at a senior level, taking into account whether delaying the Strategy Meeting, for example to allow for a weekend, could affect the progress of the investigation.

The Strategy Meeting should consider the option of DNA being taken in order to assist in the identification of the baby and his/her parent/s.


3. Medical Assessment

The baby's welfare should be the immediate concern. Health professionals should undertake appropriate tests to identify whether the baby has any medical conditions that without immediate treatment may result in long term health problems, developmental delay or death and should meet any immediate health needs. Developmental tests should also be undertaken to assist in clarification of the baby's age and development. Tests should include all routine tests for new born children such as PKU and neo natal screening.


4. Care Planning Meeting

The baby should remain in hospital for a period of monitoring and whilst a suitable placement is identified. Prior to discharge a Care Planning Meeting will take place between Children's Social Care, hospital staff, carers and the police to ensure that the baby's needs are being met and any outstanding treatment is agreed.


5. Tracing of Parents

The police should take lead responsibility in co-ordinating and managing any media involvement. Each agency should notify their respective press office.

Professionals involved will need to agree on what notifications should be pursued through which organisations. For example professionals may agree to notify GP surgeries and Walk-in Centres to be alert to women who present as having given birth recently, but do not attend with a child. Checks on all children of the same gender born within a particular period of time may be considered.

Consideration for neighbouring Authorities to be advised that further checks should be made on parents who advise that their baby is being cared for by another party.

In the event that a parent is traced, consideration should be given to the emotional, physical and mental well being of the parent. The parent may be the subject of continuing enquiries by the police.


6. Child Protection Conference

Prior to any consideration being given to the baby being returned to the care of a parent, the appropriate assessments (see the Single Assessments Procedure) should be completed and, where appropriate, a Child Protection Conference should be convened in order that the need for a Child Protection Plan can be considered. (See also Initial Child Protection Conferences Procedure)

End