Assessing Risk and Parenting Capacity in the Perinatal Period

An infant Mental Health Perspective


Our children’s pliable neurons carry within them all humanity’s hopes. (Quoted from the work of Lewis, et al, ‘A General Theory of Love’), p.403

The period between pregnancy and 2 years is increasingly seen as a critical period in shaping children’s life chances, based on evidence of brain formation, communication and language development, and the impact of relationships formed during this period on mental health. It is therefore also a critical opportunity for assessing risk and to intervene and break cycles of poor outcomes.

The Perinatal period provides a unique opportunity to address potential future problems for both mother and baby and to build healthy babyhood/childhood foundations. Joint / multi-agency training on infant mental health would equip Practitioners to deliver the right messages about the significance of infant mental health and early infant communication and contribute to preventing emotional harm.  It will also assist Practitioners in identifying risk and protective factors to consider while carrying out a multi-agency assessment within the CAF, CIN or Section 47 Frameworks.

Aimed at

This is a one day Multi-agency Course aimed at all professionals/ practitioners involved with the family during the ante- and perinatal period assessing risk.  This includes Social Care Workers, i.e. Social Care Assistants, Family Support Workers, Nursery Staff, Children’s Centres, Residential Mother and baby Units.

The course can be adapted to be delivered to a Single Agency Group, but the learning outcomes will remain largely the same.

Handouts / Resources

  • Useful links and resources
  • Recommended Reading
  • Handouts covering key learning points

Learning Outcomes

  • To gain new insights and understanding of the latest research around infant mental health and neuroscience developments during the perinatal period (0-2yrs)
  • To explore and be able to identify the causes / factors that impact infant mental health and my cause emotional harm
  • To understand and be able to explain the consequences of poor infant mental health development
  • To explore the links between experiences in early years and later physical and emotional health
  • To be able to identify and consider risk and protective factors in assessing parenting capacity and explore parental variables that may impact infant mental health adversely
  • To consider the transition between the Pre-birth Assessment and assessment during the Perinatal period and identify possible gaps in practice
  • To explore the principles of meaningful, child-centred multi-agency risk assessment, planning and intervention in the perinatal period



  • A combination of classroom style delivery, multiple choice questionnaire, video, small group work and interactive case study discussions.
  • Local Policy and Procedure around Pre-birth Assessment and Child Protection Procedures will be taken in account.
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