M.03.08.13 Emergency separations

  1. In the case of emergency separations, where the mother may no longer be able to care for her child, the alternative caregiver will be contacted and the plan in the [M.03.08.Form.06 Child’s care plan] will be enacted.
    Watch PointThe Alternative Caregiver information can be found in the NurtureNet app or at [NurtureNet Emergency Contact] link under Related Links / Resources.
  2. If staff identify a risk to the child that may result in a transition out of the Mothers with Babies Unit (MBU), such as a breach of the [M.03.08.Form.02 Parenting Agreement] or risk to the best interest of the child, staff are to;
    1. Stay with the mother and child, offer reassurances and attempt to deescalate the situation where possible.
    2. If within business hours, seek advice from the social worker, contracted support service worker, and residential manager.
    3. If outside of business hours, the on-call manager must be contacted.
  3. Staff and the manager will identify what the risk is, whether there is imminent risk towards the child, whether risk can be mitigated with the prison or not, and who needs to be involved to provide additional support to the mother, child, and staff.
  4. Consideration

    If you have concerns about the mother’s wellbeing / mental health, raise these concerns with the Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist, or Intervention and Support Practice Team (ISPT) within the prison Health Services, who can help support the mother.

    The Midwife, Doctor, and/or Plunket Nurse should also be contacted to provide support.

    Other relevant supports may include maternal mental health services, whānau, or Oranga Tamariki.

    All concerns should be documented in the appropriate places

  5. The general manager custodial must be contacted and will make a preliminary decision regarding whether the child should leave the prison.
  6. Decisions to separate the mother and child should be thoroughly considered and based on individual assessments and multidisciplinary approaches where possible, including the voices of whānau.
  7. If the concerns are related to mental health, an assessment by a mental health clinician must be undertaken to determine what support is required. This should be considered in the general manager custodial's decision.
    Watch Point

    Decisions around parent child separation should be in the best interest of the child and their safety.

    The short- and long-term effects should be considered.

    The best interests of the child must be at the core of planning – consider who can provide this viewpoint, such as whānau, the Support Service, midwife (if within 6 weeks post-partum) and/or Oranga Tamariki.

  8. A collective approach to planning the separation should be done with care to avoid any further trauma to the child, mother, or anyone else involved in the process. This should occur with support people, including professionals and whānau.
  9. If separation is deemed necessary, the alternative caregiver(s) in the [M.03.08.Form.06 Child’s care plan] will be contacted to collect the child.
  10. If the alternative caregiver is unable to assist immediately, explore options with whānau or other community or cultural supports.
  11. If all options to identify an appropriate caregiver are exhausted, contact can be made to Oranga Tamariki for further guidance and support.

    If the separation is likely to be quite sudden / unexpected for the mother, consider what supports need to wrap around her when this occurs, such as having a support person present.

    Where possible, include whānau in these conversations to help with de-escalation or provide emotional support to the mother.

  12. In the case of separation every effort should be made for the mother to have time with her child to say goodbye where safe to do so.
  13. A plan must be put in place in collaboration with the mother and whānau to establish ongoing contact with the child.
  14. If the mother is able to resume her parenting responsibilities safety, she may be supported to do so. This may include convening a panel to provide multi-disciplinary advice to the general manager custodial.
  15. Decision making should include the mother and her nominated support people, with the best interest of the child at the centre of any decisions made.
  16. All actions, rationale, and plans must be documented in IOMS or other appropriate locations.
  17. If separation between a mother and her child occurs the general manager custodial must ensure procedures are in place to support the mother who may be distressed. The unit PCO must arrange for the woman to undertake [M.05 Prisoners at risk of self-harm] [M.05.02.Form.01 Review risk assessment] as required.

    Other support may include:

    • Enabling phone calls, AVLs, or visits with whānau
    • Social Worker
    • Counsellor
    • Midwifery support
    • Maternal Mental Health support
    • MBU Support Service
    • Kaumatua, Kaiwhakamana, Pou Tūhono or other cultural support
    • Regular checks from ISP team or Health Services staff
    • Facilitation of ongoing contact with the child in the feeding and bonding facilities where appropriate Video calls with the child
    • Identified suitable escorting staff; particularly where separation occurs at birth or the mother is going outside of the prison to facilitate handing the child to an alternative caregiver
    • Inclusion in identifying a plan to be reunited with her baby.

    The mother’s preference should be facilitated where possible.

  18. Separation can also have an impact on staff wellbeing – see [Staff Welfare Support Services] for information on how to access wellbeing support.