Lizzie had already had one very young child removed for adoption. Lizzie and her partner Ben had been unable to safely care for their child because of their chaotic lifestyles and serious drug use. When Lizzie became pregnant again the Child In Need team in which I was located were allocated the case and I was assigned to complete a pre-birth assessment -the key focus was whether Lizzie and Ben were in a position to maintain care of their child, with support from family and friends, or whether consideration needed to be given for an application to the courts to initiate care proceedings.
Drug testing results were coming back clean, and Lizzie was making every effort to prove that she really wanted this baby and would do whatever she could to make that happen. My manager was very involved in overseeing the case and the supervision I had included the opportunity to reflect on different courses of action and consider research findings for parents where substances misuse is a feature. As part of the assessment we arranged a family network meeting to explore who in the family and friendship network could provide support and what the extent of their involvement would be I was also able to work with a family support practitioner who could provide additional day to day support, often working on the practical issues which are so important and building a trusting relationship with the parents, Honest, but difficult conversations about what needed to happen to ensure their baby would be cared for safely took place, in line with the Signs of Safety practice principles.
Lizzie and her family members were encouraged to give their ideas about what they would do to make the changes, they were able to work together and develop a set of rules that they would stick to. There were child protection conferences and reviews - Lizzie, Ben, family members and drug treatment agencies supporting the parents were involved in drawing up and checking the child protection plan at regular intervals.
Having known Lizzie for some time, it was amazing to see, how for the first time, she really took responsibility for what was happening in her life, and, with the support of her family, was able to stick to the rules they had developed. When Ben broke the rules they had set about not using drugs, it was Lizzie who insisted he leave the home. However, there was still concern about Lizzie’s ability to care for her baby on her own. I gained advice and support from colleagues experienced in kinship care and different legal options available. With Lizzie’s agreement her mother has become the main carer and the new baby is really loved by the whole family. Lizzie has stayed drug free and has lots of contact with her child and she is full of optimism for the future .She and her mum have a strong and supportive relationship. Using my skills to help Lizzie and her family to see what needed to change, and to help them develop plans that will keep the baby safe now and in the future has given me tremendous job satisfaction.
The names in this text have been changed to ensure anonymity.