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Co-Designing a Map to describe the process of taking an unborn child into care: helping parents social workers and health workers navigate life changing decisions.

Blackpool has by many measures the worst healthcare outcomes in the country. There are also significant social challenges with many communities encountering structural barriers to success. It was in this context that the NHIR funded Born into Care project was commissioned with the aim of ‘supporting the mental health of birth mothers at risk of recurrent care proceedings’.*

‘Around a quarter of women who have had a child involved in a care proceeding will go on to have at least one more child involved in a care proceeding, and this is more likely for younger women’*

Taking a health equity approach, the health and social care system is brought into the spotlight here, as Nicholas Crichton, founder and champion of the Family Drug and Alcohol Court says ‘A family justice system that removes the fourth, fifth or sixth child from families without doing anything about the reasons for removal is a failing system’ *

One strand of the Born Into Care project in Blackpool sought to map the process by which an unborn child may be taken into care at birth or soon after. This was a consultative process that resulted in a 3500-word 20 slide PowerPoint document describing this process.

In September 2023, Professor Leon Cruickshank was approached to lead a small project to co-design an accessible usable description of this process. This is to help parents, family, social workers, health workers and others to better have a common understanding of this process, its implications. Working closely with a team of experts listed below the team co-designed a series of documents at a range of levels of detail to achieve this aim.

Co-Design Team in Alphabetical order 

Annette Algie, Strategic Service Manager, Better Start

Leon Cruickshank, Co-Designer, Lancaster University

Ged Docherty, Manager, For Baby’s Sake, Blackpool Council

Michaela Goodridge, Co-Production Delivery Lead, Blackpool Council

Bertie Goffe, Workforce Development Lead, Children’s Service, Blackpool Council

Lisa Harrison, Lived experience sessional worker, Blackpool Council

Avni Hindocha, Speciality Registrar, Public Health, Blackpool Council

Claire Punshon, Early Parenthood Specialist Nurse, NHS

Sejal Changede, Designer, Lancaster University

Kate Simpson, Practice Development Leader, Transformation Service, Blackpool Council

Deborah Thompson, Family Time Team Leader, Blackpool Council

*Alrouh et al. (2022). Mothers in recurrent care proceedings: new evidence for England and Wales. Nuffield Family Justice Observatory. https://www.nuffieldfjo.org.uk/resource/mothers-in-recurrent-care- proceedings-new-evidence-for-england-and-wales

Follow this link to download a report that describes in detail the co-design process involving parents, social workers health workers and other participants from across Blackpool and the wider region. BIC report