1.5 Child Protection Conferences
Initial child protection conferences
Following section 47 enquiries, an initial child protection conference brings together family members (and the child where appropriate), with the supporters, advocates and practitioners most involved with the child and family, to make decisions about the child’s future safety, health and development. If concerns relate to an unborn child, consideration should be given as to whether to hold a child protection conference prior to the child’s birth.
- To bring together and analyse, in an inter-agency setting, all relevant information and plan how best to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child. It is the responsibility of the conference to make recommendations on how organisations and agencies work together to safeguard the child in future. Conference tasks include:
- appointing a lead statutory body (either local authority children’s social care or NSPCC) and a lead social worker, who should be a qualified, experienced social worker and an employee of the lead statutory body
- identifying membership of the core group of practitioners and family members who will develop and implement the child protection plan
- establishing timescales for meetings of the core group, production of a child protection plan and for child protection review meetings
- agreeing an outline child protection plan, with clear actions and timescales, including a clear sense of how much improvement is needed, by when, so that success can be judged clearly
The conference chair:
- is accountable to the Director of Children’s Services. Where possible the same person should chair subsequent child protection reviews
- should be a practitioner, independent of operational and/or line management responsibilities for the case
- should meet the child and parents in advance to ensure they understand the purpose and the process
Social workers should:
- convene, attend and present information about the reason for the conference, their understanding of the child’s needs, parental capacity and family and environmental context and evidence of how the child has been abused or neglected and its impact on their health and development
- analyse the information to enable informed decisions about what action is necessary to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child who is the subject of the conference
- share the conference information with the child and family beforehand (where appropriate)
- prepare a report for the conference on the child and family which sets out and analyses what is known about the child and family and the local authority’s recommendation
- record conference decisions and recommendations and ensure action follows
All involved practitioners should work together to safeguard the child from harm in the future, taking timely, effective action according to the plan agreed.
Safeguarding partners should monitor the effectiveness of these arragements.
Where there is disagreement about a decision not to hold a conference, the professional disagreement / conflict resolution procedures should be applied.
Child protection review conference
The review conference procedures for preparation, decision-making and other procedures should be the same as those for an initial child protection conference.
- To review whether the child is continuing to suffer or is likely to suffer significant harm, and review developmental progress against child protection plan outcomes.
- To consider whether the child protection plan should continue or should be changed.
Social workers should:
- attend and lead the organisation of the conference
- determine when the review conference should be held within three months of the initial conference, and thereafter at maximum intervals of six months
- provide information to enable informed decisions about what action is necessary to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child who is the subject of the child protection plan, and about the effectiveness and impact of action taken so far
- share the conference information with the child and family beforehand, where appropriate
- record conference outcomes
- decide whether to initiate family court proceedings (all the children in the household should be considered, even if concerns are only expressed about one child) if the child is considered to be suffering significant harm
All involved practitioners should:
- attend, when invited, and provide details of their involvement with the child and family
- produce reports for the child protection review. This information will provide an overview of work undertaken by family members and practitioners, and evaluate the impact on the child’s welfare against the planned outcomes set out in the child protection plan.
For details of local procedures for child protection conferences, please contact your local children's services.