Child protection conferences
What is a child protection conference?
Government guidance called Working Together to Safeguard Children (2015) says that, in such cases, a child protection conference must be held.
There are two types of conference. The first one to take place after an enquiry is called an initial conference. There will be other conferences after the initial conference, and these are called reviews.
The Safeguarding Partnership have outlined what a child protection conference is and useful things for you to know below. A leaflet can also be downloaded:
For parents and carers whose first language is not English translated version of this guide can be produced on request. For parents and carers whose first language is not English translated version of this guide can be produced on request.
Who is present at a child protection conference?
The child protection conference is a formal meeting which is overseen, chaired, by a member of the safeguarding unit, who has a lot of experience in child protection matters.
The people invited to the conference will always include the social worker, the police and your child’s/family’s GP.
Other people invited will depend on the age of your child, but will usually include people who know you and your child well such as your health visitor, your child’s teacher or the school nurse.
What is the purpose of the child protection conference?
As a parent/carer, you will always be invited to attend a conference unless there are really good reasons why the chair thinks you should not attend (see next section about exclusions).
If there are problems for you in attending the conference, let your social worker know.
The professionals who are attending the conference will have written a report. They will have talked to you about the issues contained in their report.
You will be asked to take part in the meeting by expressing your views, asking questions and responding to information given by other people present. You may also bring a friend, relative or solicitor to a conference to support you. The conference chair will meet with you and your supporter before the conference begins. Generally, a supporter will not be able to speak on your behalf or take part in the discussion, they may also remind you of things you want to say.
Please note: It is important to remember that if you are bringing a friend as a supporter, this needs to be someone you can truly trust as they may hear information about you and your family you may not wish them to know.
If you need any assistance with writing to the chair or with arrangements so that you can attend the conference, such as transport or child care, you should contact your social worker.
What are the reasons for excluding a parent from a child protection conference?
The decision not to allow you to attend a conference is a very serious step and the final decision about such exclusion is made by the conference chair. The reasons for exclusion will be explained to you.
Some of the reasons may include:
- the threat or risk of violence towards another family member or professional attending the conference;
- evidence that your child may be placed at risk of harm if you attend;
- evidence that taking part in the conference may be harmful to your health or well being;
- evidence that you are under the influence of drugs / alcohol.
If I decide not to attend the conference or I am excluded, how will my voice be heard?
If you decide that you would rather not attend the conference, or you are excluded, it is still important that your views are included in the discussion.
You may do this through your social worker, or by writing to the conference chair, who will read out your letter at the conference
What kind of decisions can a conference make?
At the end of the conference, if all the professionals agree that your child is still at risk of significant harm, they can decide that your child should be the subject of a child protection plan.
Although you will be asked for your views during the conference, you will not be able to prevent your child from having a child protection plan if this is believed to be necessary. However, there is a complaints procedure if you think the decision has not been reached properly. Information about his process can be found in another East Riding Safeguarding Children’s Partnership leaflet a copy of which will be available from the conference chair.
If your child is made the subject of a child protection plan, a social worker will be allocated as your child’s key worker. It is their job to make sure that the actions and services written in the child protection plan to protect your child are carried out and provided. The detailed plan will be drawn up at the first meeting of the core group.
The conference may also recommend some other services which they feel should be made available to you and support you and your family.
What is a Child Protection Plan?
Working Together to Safeguard Children sets out a number of categories for making a child the subject of a child protection plan.
- physical abuse;
- emotional abuse;
- sexual abuse;
The list of children who have child protection plans is held by the safeguarding children unit.
Professionals who are concerned about a child may ask whether he/she is the subject of a child protection plan, but great care is taken to check the enquiries are genuine before any information is provided.
What does having a child protection plan mean for my child and myself?
If the conference decides that a child protection plan is necessary, a group of professionals, who will mostly be involved with you and your child, will meet regularly with you. This is called a core group.
This core group will always include you, your child (subject to their age) and the key worker for your child (social worker); the other people involved will depend on what your family’s needs are.
The core group will meet on a regular basis, at a minimum of once a month, to discuss the details of the child protection plan, and sort out any worries or problems which may arise.
Within three months of the initial conference which decided that your child would be the subject of a child protection plan, a child protection review must be held to discuss what progress has been made with the child protection plan and make sure that the actions agreed at the conference to improve your child’s safety have taken place.
Further review conferences must be held at least once every six months for as long as your child is the subject of a child protection plan.