Child Protection Conferences
What is a Child Protection Conference?
The conference is a meeting held that involves you and all the professionals involved with your child(ren) if professionals have serious concerns about your child(ren)'s welfare following enquiries. The people present at the conference share information about their involvement with your family, assess the risk to your child(ren) and decide if there needs to be a plan to protect your child(ren).
Who will be at the conference?
You will be invited, as will your child(ren), if they are old enough. Professionals such as your child(ren)'s social worker, teachers and health workers will be invited. There may also be people you don't know, such as police. The conference is led by an independent Chairperson, who will meet with you before the conference to ensure that you understand the process of the meeting and for you to ask any questions. Another person will be there to take notes of the meeting, which will be sent to you, and professionals, following the conference together with the professionals' reports.
Do I have to attend?
You are advised to attend the conference, as it is about your child(ren); you are important and can share valuable information, your views and concerns. You are not obliged to attend, but the conference will take place in your absence and decisions will be made.
Will people listen to what I have to say?
You are important and your views will be heard by everyone at the meeting. If you cannot attend, you should speak to the social worker to ensure that your views are heard at the conference.
Can I bring someone to support me?
You can bring a friend, relative, advocate or solicitor with you to the conference. They will be able to support you, but not to give their opinion to the conference or be involved in making decisions about risk or planning.
What happens in the Conference?
All the professionals at conference will share information about their involvement with your family, including strengths as well as difficulties. When all the information has been shared, the professionals will be asked to provide their assessment of risk to your child(ren) and make recommendations about what needs to be in place to protect your child(ren) and help you do this.
What decisions can the conference make?
The conference decides if your child(ren) are at risk of significant harm and if your child(ren) require a Child Protection Plan.
What is the Child Protection Plan?
The Child Protection Plan is produced when a conference decides there is a need to have a plan to keep children safe from harm. If a Protection Plan is made, regular meetings will be held - called 'core groups' - to consider the plan and how everyone is working on the plan.
How long will my child(ren) have a Child Protection Plan?
There will be a review conference three months after the initial conference, where the Protection Plan is looked at and decisions reached regarding whether or not the plan needs to continue. If it does continue, it will be reviewed again on a six-monthly basis.
Can the conference decide to take my child away from me?
No - this is something that many parents/carers worry about when a conference is called. The conference decides what protection plan is needed to keep your child(ren) safe and well and how everyone will work together to ensure this happens.
Only a court can order that children no longer live with their parents and this would only be in very harmful situations; most children who are subject of a Child Protection Plan stay at home with their parents/carers.
What if I do not agree with the conference's decision?
There is a complaints procedure that you will have access to at the conference and which allows for complaints about the process of the conference. However, during the course of a complaints consideration, the decision made by the Conference stands.
If you are unhappy about the outcome of your complaint regarding the process of the child protection conference it can in certain circumstances be considered by Central Bedfordshire Safeguarding Children Board.
Please also see below a link to the Central Bedfordshire Safeguarding Children Board’s procedure for ‘Complaints arising from Child Protection Conferences’
The only matters the Safeguarding Board Complaints Panel can consider as part of a Stage 2 complaint are:
- The decision for the child to become, to continue or not to become the subject of a Child Protection Plan;
- The category(ies) of abuse, determined by the Conference Chair, under which the child is subject to a Child Protection Plan;
- The process of the Child Protection Conference;
- Whether the Child Protection Procedures about Child Protection Conferences and other inter-agency protocols were followed.
The policy further states that: Where the complaint is in relation to the practice, decision of a specific agency or a professional and their conduct, the person who made the complaint will be directed to that agency's internal complaints procedure e.g. the complaint is that the social worker's report to the conference was not shared with the parents in good time prior to the Conference or the Chair of the Conference was rude in their manner to the child/parents in the pre-Conference meeting.
In order for your complaint to be heard as a Stage 2 complaint you will need to tell us which aspects of your complaint relate to the criteria above, what you are still dissatisfied about and what solution you are looking for. The Panel the Safeguarding Children Board convenes can only make the following recommendations:
- Recommend that the Child Protection Conference be reconvened earlier and/or with a different Chair to reconsider any recommendation regarding the decision that the child should be or continue to be subject to a Child Protection Plan and the category of Significant Harm on which any such decision is based;
- Identify any learning points for a specific agency.