Infants are almost entirely dependent on their caregivers for their safety and wellbeing. However, numbers and costs of children’s social services interventions among infants are rising, with potentially profound and enduring effects for both mother and baby. The birth of a child can be a challenging time in a woman’s life, and some mothers experience mental distress and caregiving struggles.
Mental health difficulties in the perinatal period have been implicated in the risks to children’s welfare, but very little is known about the needs of perinatal women with mental health diagnoses and infants in contact with children’s social care.
This project is a secondary quantitative analysis of data collected on mother-infant dyads where the mother was admitted to acute psychiatric care in England and Wales in the year after childbirth, including where there was children’s social services involvement at the time of their acute episode.
The aim of this research is to develop our understanding of
- the support needs of families where the mother has a severe perinatal mental health diagnosis and the infant is in contact with children’s social care services, and
- factors associated with intervention by children’s social care services
This study will use descriptive summary statistics to describe the characteristics, needs, and service use of mother-infant dyads with and without social care involvement between timepoints and examine key factors associated with children’s social care involvement during the acute episode and at one-year post-discharge. It will also conduct analyses to explore in more detail the needs of mothers with the most significant social services involvement (i.e. those who lost custody of their infant by one-year post-discharge and those who had a Child Protection Plan in place).
This project was funded as part of our Spark Grant scheme, which sought to fund research projects looking to improve outcomes for children and families and build an evidence base in children’s social care.
The purpose of the Spark Grant Scheme was to fund additional research in children’s social care, conducted by researchers who might otherwise be under-represented in the research community, and/or who might struggle to get funding through other routes, with the aim of providing project leadership opportunities for researchers who may have not had the experience to date.
The project is set to begin in September 2021 and be completed by August 2022.
For further information about the Spark Grant Scheme or its projects, please contact the Programmes team: firstname.lastname@example.org