Child Protection Conferences
What is a Child Protection Conference?
This is a meeting which is held when there are concerns that your child may have been harmed and may be at risk of further harm.
Who is invited to a Child Protection Conference?
A number of people will be invited to attend the conference. Examples of some of the people who may attend include a chairperson who leads the meeting; you as the parent or carer of the child; someone to support you if you wish (e.g. a friend or relative); your child’s social worker (and perhaps his/her manager); your doctor; your health visitor (if you have a child under 5); a teacher or head teacher from the school your child attends; a police officer who specialises in child protection; a member of Social Services staff who takes notes of the meeting; and a community paediatrician and/or health manager.
Other professionals may also be invited to attend the Conference if they have been involved with your family, for example, a probation officer or staff from a hospital if your child has been in hospital.
There will also be someone to type a summary of what is discussed in the meeting. Your invitation letter will list the names of all the people invited.
Can I attend?
As a parent or carer you have an important role in the meeting and you are encouraged to attend. We understand that it may be difficult for parents and carers to attend such meetings and so you are welcome to bring someone with you to act as your “supporter”. This could be another member of your family, a friend or a solicitor. This should be someone you can trust to give good advice and to keep your personal information confidential. Your supporter is there for your support and will not be required to give their views and opinions.
What if I do not attend?
If you cannot attend the meeting, please let the social worker know as soon as possible. It may be something that we can help with. If you don’t attend, the conference may go ahead without you. If this happens the social worker will visit to explain what happened in the meeting and you will receive a written record of the meeting.
Can family members be excluded?
There may sometimes be reasons why it is considered best for family members or children and young people not to attend the Conference. For example, we may ask family members not to attend if, by doing so, it may put people in danger, or if it increases the level of risk to the child or to other family members. The chairperson will make the final decision about who attends the Conference.
What if there is someone else I would like to be invited?
This depends on who it is. Please talk to your social worker about this.
What if there is someone I do not want to attend?
Please discuss this with your social worker. In exceptional circumstances a parent or carer may not be invited to the conference. This is when the chairperson decides that their presence threatens others or will disrupt the meeting. In such cases the parent or carer can give their views in a letter or by other suitable means and a summary will be shared in the meeting as appropriate.
Will my child be invited?
We do encourage young people to attend their conferences. However this depends on your child’s age, understanding and views about attending. It is something that the social worker will discuss with you and your child. The decision to invite your child is made by the chairperson in discussion with the social worker. It is possible for them to attend just a part of the meeting if that is felt to be more appropriate.
How will information be shared at the conference?
Reports will be requested from all the professionals asked to attend the conference and all of these should be shared with you by the report writers prior to the conference. A copy of these reports will be available during the conference and you will be able to discuss any concerns or views with the chairperson.
Your child’s social worker’s report will include your views on the concerns being raised about your child.
You will be given the opportunity before the meeting to speak with the Chair to share your views. Your views will also be sought throughout the meeting. You may also want to write something to be shared in summary at the conference.
All the relevant information will then be discussed at the conference including any reports from people from organisations who are unable to attend.
What happens at the Child Protection Conference?
The chairperson will meet with you before the meeting starts. They will talk to you about what will happen and answer any questions you may have. At the start of the meeting everyone will be asked to introduce themselves. Meetings are led by an Independent Reviewing Officer. They will ask questions of those at the meeting, including you and your child, in order to draw out an understanding of your family’s situation; including, strengths, dangers, safety and to make plans for the future to support you and your family to ensure that your child is safe.
To make sure that the information shared in the meeting is properly understood it is recorded on a large whiteboard or projected on to a screen so that you and everyone in the meeting can clearly see what is being written.
The information is recorded in three columns exploring the following key questions about your child’s situation:
• What are we worried about?
• What’s working well?
• What needs to happen?
At most meetings everyone will be asked what they feel about the current situation for your child or young person. The question will usually focus on the issues that led to the meeting being held. Participants, including you, your child and family, if present, may be asked to respond to questions on a scale of 0 to 10. 0 indicating a view that your child is unsafe and 10 indicating a view that your child is safe and is not in need of a child protection plan. This is referred to as a scaling question and is used to help generate discussion and highlight differences in opinion and perception.
At the end of the Child Protection Conference there will be a discussion and agreement of what the next steps should be to help meet the needs of your child, what you and your family goals are and what the goals of everyone else are with regard to helping to keep your child safe.
The chairperson will then summarise what has been said before asking the professionals in the meeting whether they feel your child needs a plan to keep them safe. A record of the meeting will be given to everyone who attended the meeting
What kind of decisions are made?
When all of the information about the situation of your child has been shared and discussed, the representatives of the agencies in the meeting will decide if your child is at risk of harm and, if so, make a Child Protection Plan. Child Protection Plans are based on what has been discussed and agreed at the meeting and they state clearly what needs to happen to change the situation. They decide on the people who will do this and by when.
The Child Protection Plan will identify the date of the first Review Child Protection Conference and under what circumstances it might be necessary to convene the conference before that date.
What happens after the Conference?
Within two days of the conference you will get a copy of the Child Protection Plan by post (if one is needed). You will receive the written record of the conference as within 15 working days.
If your child does have a Child Protection Plan made for them, then you will be invited to a smaller meeting to be held within ten days. This is known as a Core Group Meeting. Only those professionals working closely with yourself and your family will be invited and you and your child will take a full part in these meetings.
What if I have a complaint about the meeting?
You can talk to the social worker, the chairperson of the meeting or you may contact the Complaints and Commendations section of North Yorkshire County Council. This is a web link to information on how to make a complaint to North Yorkshire County Council:
If you wish to speak to the Complaints Officer you can contact them:
By telephone: 01609 534193
By Freephone number: 0808 168 2785
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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