What is a Child Protection Conference?
A child protection conference is a meeting that is held when a social worker, or a teacher, or a health visitor, or a nurse, or the police, or any other professional who knows you, believes you are at risk of significant harm. They may feel that extra support is needed for you or your family to ensure your safety.
What sort of harm?
Harm can take several forms:
- Physical– when an adult deliberately hurts a child such as hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, drowning or suffocating.
- Neglect– where a child is not being looked after properly, for example, not getting enough to eat, not going to the dentist or doctors when they need to and/or being left in dangerous situations.
- Emotional– This would happen, for instance, when a child is all the time being unfairly blamed for everything, or they are told they are stupid and made to feel unhappy. This can also be when a child sees or hears violent arguing or fighting between adults at home.
- Sexual– examples would be where a child has been forced to take part in sexual activities or look at sexual pictures, by an adult or older young person.
The meeting will be chaired by someone called a child protection coordinator. Their job is to make sure that any decisions reached, or plans made at the child protection conference is done fairly and that everyone, including you, has a chance to have their say.
The purpose of the conference is to make sure that everyone fully understands the worries for you and is clear about the things that are going well.
A Child Protection Conference is not about taking you away from your parents.
Who will attend this meeting?
Children who have some understanding of the worries are able to attend their meeting if they want to. If you want to come to your meeting, you will be able to attend for some or all of the meeting. It is important that people know how you feel about what is happening in your life. You will be offered an advocate who will meet with you to understand your views and who will attend the conference on your behalf or with you. If you do not want an advocate, you could have a family friend or member to come with you.
Your Mum and dad or the person who looks after you will come to the conference. Professional people like someone from your school, your school nurse or your doctor will also be invited and should attend.
Your Mum and Dad, and any other members of your family involved in your care will be invited to the meeting.
Any people working with your family will be invited. Professionals such as the police and GP will also be invited even if they have not directly worked with you or your family.
What happens at the meeting?
If you attend the conference, before the meeting starts, the child protection coordinator will meet you and will go through with you how the conference will be run.
You can ask any questions that you may have about the meeting and let the child protection coordinator know if there is any way in which they can support you, to make sure that you can attend and take part in all of the meeting.
The meeting will decide what needs to happen to keep you safe.
What happens after the meeting?
After the meeting, regular meetings with Children’s Social Care will take place to look at any other help that may be needed for you and your family.
Your social worker and the child protection chair will explain the purpose of these meetings and agree the dates with you and other professionals at the end of the conference.