Child Protection Conferences
This is a meeting to discuss worries about the care of a child. Its main purpose is to determine if the child is at risk of harm, and if so, to agree what needs to be done to reduce the risk. The Conference can decide to make a child subject of a child protection plan, or agree other ways to help. A Child Protection Conference Report (MS Word, 203KB) is required to be completed by agencies and is circulated to participants of the conference.
Child protection plan
Children are made subject of a child protection plan when they are thought to be at risk of harm. The plan is developed with the family and describes what must be done to keep the child safe.
It is important that parents and carers are part of the meeting and involved in planning for the child. Parents may also wish to bring a friend or family member with them to offer them support during the meeting. If parents are unable to attend they are invited to share their views via letter or by asking someone else within the conference to express their views for them. Parents may also wish to contact the chair of the conference by telephone or email prior to the meeting.
If parents have any specific difficulties involved in attending, for example they do not speak English, have a disability or child care difficulties, the Social Worker or the Chair of the Conference may be able to help.
Children aged over 10 years of age are usually invited to attend either the entire meeting or part of it. It is important to understand the childs views, wishes and feelings when making plans for them. Those children who do not wish to attend the meeting or who are aged under 10 years will be supported by the Social Worker to share their views in a different way; this could be through pictures, voice recordings, letters etc.
Others who may be at the conference
Those professionals who know or work with the child and the family will be invited to share any relevant information that they have. These include teachers, doctors, health visitors, school nurses, probation officers and social workers. The police will also attend to share information and help decide future plans.
What happens at the conference
Please follow this link to view an animation explaining what happens at conference in more detail. This animation is designed for children and young people but parents and professionals may find it equally helpful.
If a decision is made to make a child the subject of a child protection plan
- There will be a core group of people made up of family and professionals who will help and support the child and their parent/carers.
- The group will meet monthly to make sure that the plan is working and the child is safe.
- A review conference will be held within three months of the initial conference to look at what progress has been made
- Further review conferences are usually held within six monthly periods until the child no longer needs to be subject of a child protection plan.
The conference cannot decide to remove a child from the care of the parents
However, when there are serious concerns that a child would be at serious risk at home, the local authority may apply to a court for an order to remove the child. The court makes the decision about whether or not to make an order only after very careful consideration.
Fortunately in most cases, parents and professionals are able to work together and agree on plans which will allow the child to remain at home.
What to do if you disagree with the decision of conference, or how it has been conducted
Parents or the child can appeal the decision if they feel that the conference was not conducted properly.