PG43. Teenage Parents

For a full record of amendments and updates, see the Amendments & Archives.

Specific definitions of key concepts used by safeguarding practitioners are available through the Glossary.

1. Introduction

Caption: Introduction table


This section should be read in conjunction with Sexually Active Children Procedure and Sexual Exploitation Procedure.


Professionals have a responsibility to consider the welfare of both the prospective mother and her baby and should consider early help and support services, particularly where the mother is a Looked After child or Care leaver  herself. However, the paramount concern must be for the welfare of the baby, and there should be no circumstances in which concerns about the baby are not shared and investigated for fear of damaging a relationship with a young parent.


Where a parent is herself a child, in the absence of support for her needs and responsibilities, her baby could be at risk of significant harm, primarily through neglect or emotional abuse. See Recognising Abuse and Neglect Procedure.

Significant harm is defined in Responding to Concerns of Abuse and Neglect Procedure, Concept of significant harm as a situation where a child is likely to suffer harm which is such that it requires a compulsory intervention by child protection agencies into the life of the child and their family.

2. Mother under 16 years

Caption: Mother under 16 years


Professionals in all agencies should be alert to situations where a teenage mother is not in contact with local authority children's social care. If she is under 16, then a referral should be made to local authority children's social care at the earliest opportunity, in line with the Referral and Assessment Procedure (see also Referral and Assessment Procedure, Referral criteria, which provides guidance on the difference in local authority children's social care between s47 / assessment). See also Sexually Active Children Procedure.

Health and education professionals are most likely to have contact with pregnant teenagers.


Local authority children's social care should undertake an assessment of the unborn child's needs (see Referral and Assessment Procedure, Pre-birth referral and assessment) and any potential risk of harm posed to them from the mother's needs and circumstances, including the mother's relationship with the father / current partner and the parenting capacity of both (including using the indicators in Sexually Active Children Procedure).

3. Mother over 16 years

Caption: Mother over 16 years


If a young mother is over 16, professionals should:

  • Make an assessment of the risk of harm to the baby, consulting their agency's designated child protection professional as appropriate;
  • Assess the risk of harm to the mother through her relationship with the father / current partner.


If, on the basis of these assessments, a professional has concerns about the ability of a young mother over the age of 16 to care for her baby without additional support services, then a referral should be made to local authority children's social care in line with the Referral and Assessment Procedure.