What are Child Protection Conferences?
What is a Child Protection Conference?
It is a meeting to discuss concerns about the care of your child. Its main purpose is to see whether your 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 your child the subject of a Child Protection Plan, or agree other ways to help.
What is a Child Protection Plan?
Children are made the subject of a Child Protection Plan when they are thought to be at risk of harm. This might be from physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse or neglect. It helps to keep a check on the work being done with these children. The Plan contains basic details of the children and their families. It is held securely by Children’s Social Care and information from it is only given to authorised people.
Who will be at the Conference?
Those professional workers who know your family will be invited to share any relevant information they have. These could 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.
Are parents/carers invited?
Yes, it is important that you come to the meeting to give your views and hear what others are saying. You may bring a relative, friend or solicitor as a supporter.
You would only be excluded if it was thought that you might be obstructive or that your presence might interfere with an investigation.
If you do not attend, you can put your views in writing to the Conference or ask the Social Worker to present your views. Whether or not you attend, you will receive a copy of the Conference minutes.
If there are any difficulties involved in attending, for example you do not speak English, you have a disability, or you have child care difficulties, let the Social Worker know and we will try to help you.
Will my child be invited?
Only if their age and level of understanding allows, and it is not against their best interests. It will not be appropriate to bring young children to the Conference. Your child will be invited or contribute. You can see a video explaining how a conference works.
What happens at the Conference?
There is a set Agenda attached to this letter; this is always followed at the meeting.
- The Conference Chair will see you before the meeting to explain what will happen.
- The Conference starts with introductions and time is given for reports to be read.
- You will be invited to comment on the concerns and share any information, but you do not have to speak if you would prefer not to.
- You may be asked to leave the meeting for a short time if there is confidential information which cannot be shared with you at the time.
- A decision will be made about whether or not your child will become the subject of a Child Protection Plan and if so, what needs to be done next.
- The Conference will appoint a Social Worker for your child and set up a group from the people at the Conference (including yourself) to plan how to keep your child safe.
What happens if a decision is made to make my child the subject of a Child Protection Plan?
- The Social Worker will arrange a meeting to draw up a detailed plan, setting out the work that needs to be done. This is called a Core Group.
- The group will meet monthly with you to check on how the work is going.
- A Review Conference will be held within three months to look at what progress has been made.
- Further Review Conferences are usually held within six monthly periods, until your child no longer needs to be the subject of a Child Protection Plan.
Can my child be taken away from me?
In the vast majority of cases, no. The conference cannot decide to do this. However, where 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 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 if the reports contain things that I do not agree with?
Read all reports very carefully, check them with your Social Worker, or a friend, to be sure they are correct. If they are wrong, please advise the person who wrote them and tell the Chair of the Conference. You have a right under the Data Protection Act to correct any personal information that is wrong, try and correct it if you can. Just because you don’t agree with the report, may not be a reason to ask the Council to change it. Try and get advice from Citizen’s Advice Service, a Solicitor or consider making a Complaint.
What if I disagree with the decision of the Conference, or how it has been conducted?
Contact us by phone: 01270 686284, fax: 01270 686289 or email.
Alternatively complete the electronic “Let Us Know” form.