Under the Childrens Act 1989, AWP staff and volunteers have an individual legal responsibility to safeguard children (including unborn children and all young people up to the age of 18) and to promote their welfare. This applies even if it conflicts with the parents or carers wishes.
AWP works with other agencies as part of the local Safeguarding Children Board partnership and within the South West Child Procedures.
Mental health problems do not, in themselves, make poor parenting inevitable and most parents with mental health problems are able parents.
However particularly severe, complex or long standing mental health problems may have a significant impact on a persons functioning and their ability to parent. National research and evidence shows that if not dealt with, such issues and risks can significantly reduce the life chances for children and even lead to children being directly harmed.
These risks can be so high that child protection assessments and planning is often required. The most common form of intervention is helping the childs parent or carer to access support to help them parent effectively, reducing the stress to both the child and them. This is particularly so, where a child might be providing support to a parent who is too sick or disabled to look after themselves or their family.
AWP staff will therefore always ask whether a service user has children and other questions that help to assess if there are any concerns or problems.
Safety or welfare concerns
Carers, families, friends and local communities are often the first to recognise that a child may be at risk of abuse or neglect. Therefore, if you have any questions about a child's welfare, you can contact the care co-ordinator or other members of the clinical team. If you have concerns about their safety or welfare contact your local children's services.