Teenagers Caroline and Peter* were referred to the NSPCC Glasgow Service Centre’s Minding the Baby programme when Caroline was 6 months pregnant. Caroline and Peter were first-time parents and Children’s Services were worried that their unstable living conditions and deprived backgrounds would impact on their emotional bonding with their baby.
Minding the Baby is an intensive programme which takes place in the service user’s home and promotes a healthy bond between parent and child. One health practitioner and one social worker are assigned to parents from approximately 6 months into a pregnancy and visit each week to help prepare parents for the birth of their child and promote an emotional attachment when their baby is born. Both practitioners visit alternate weeks until the baby is approximately 1 year old and then alternate fortnights until the baby is 2, when support is gradually removed. The whole programme is usually completed in 2 1/2 years.
"Although Caroline was very protective of Alice*, she wasn't responding emotionally to Alice's needs."
When NSPCC health worker Shelia was first introduced to Caroline and Peter, she was aware that neither parent had much confidence in their parenting abilities. Caroline and Peter were homeless when the programme started and had many other issues in their lives, which meant they weren’t emotionally available for their baby Alice*. Both Caroline and Peter had come from families with substance misuse issues and didn’t have much positive support from either of their families. Although Caroline was very protective of Alice, she wasn’t responding emotionally to Alice’s needs and Children’s Services were worried that Caroline didn’t have the capacity to emotionally provide for Alice.
Working with Caroline and Peter, Shelia and her colleague encouraged the young parents to bond with Alice and learn to prioritise her needs above their own. Shelia used play sessions to promote healthy interaction between Caroline, Peter and Alice and encouraged Caroline to have more confidence in her parenting abilities.
Alice is now nearly a toddler and the programme has had a really positive impact on the young family. Both Caroline and Peter are interested in Alice’s development and Alice is meeting all key developmental milestones. Alice is a happy and cared-for child and Caroline feels increasingly confident in her own abilities to comfort and provide a safe and happy environment for her. The programme has given Caroline so much confidence that she is now considering enrolling in a local educational programme whilst continuing to provide excellent care for Alice.