What is a Child Protection Conference?
A child protection conference is a meeting that is held when a social worker, teacher, health visitor, nurse, the police or any other professional who knows your children believes them to be at risk of significant harm. They may feel that extra support is needed for you, your family or your children to ensure their safety.
Somerset County Council operates a Strengths Based Approach to child protection conferences. This focuses on the family’s strengths to put in plans to reduce the harm and worries.
The meeting will be chaired by someone called a child protection chair. Their job is to make sure that any decisions reached, or plans made at the child protection conference are done fairly and that everyone including the child has a chance to have their say.
The purpose of the conference is to make sure that everyone fully understands the worries for your child/ren and is clear about the things that are going well.
A Child Protection Conference is not about taking a child away from their parents.
Who will attend this meeting?
Children who have some understanding of the worries are able to attend their meeting if they want to. They can attend for some or all of the meeting. It is important that people know how they feel about what is happening in your life. They will be offered an advocate who will meet with them to understand their views and who will attend the conference on their behalf or with them. If your child does not want an advocate, they could have a family friend or member to come with them.
You and any other members of your family will be invited along with any professional people working with your children. Professionals such as the police and GP will also be invited even if they have not directly worked with you or your family.
It is really important that parents or carers attend these meetings, so if you want to bring someone to support you such as an advocate, a supportive friend or family member please let either the child protection chair or your social worker know. If you need an interpreter your social worker will arrange this for you.
What happens at the meeting?
Before the meeting starts, you will be met by the child protection chair, who will go through with you how the conference will be run. They will also check that you have had a chance to read all of the relevant reports as well as whether there are any factual errors. The professionals attending the meeting will be in another room reading the reports that you have already seen. This is known as the pre-meeting consultation.
Please make sure that you use this opportunity to ask any questions that you may have about the meeting, the reports and let the child protection chair 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 professionals will join you in the conference room and everyone will be asked to share what information they have and this will be recorded on a whiteboard by the child protection chair. Everyone will be asked to share their information in a respectful and non-discriminatory manner. Below is a copy of how the whiteboard looks. You will receive a typed copy of all the information on the whiteboard which are known as outcomes.
|What are we worried about now
Including the impact on the child
|Complicating Factors||What’s going well||Signs of Safety||What needs to Happen
Once all of the information has been shared everyone will be asked to scale from 0-10. This is a sliding scale, with a score of ‘0’ meaning there is no safety at all and ’10’ meaning that there is maximum safety. This is known as the Safety Scale.
As a result of all of the information shared and the score on the safety scale, a plan will be formulated and a decision made as to whether or not this plan should be either a child in need plan or a child protection plan. This decision is made by the professionals at the conference.
If it is agreed that the best way to support you is with a child protection plan a decision will be made as to what category. These are physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse or neglect.
What happens after the meeting?
Whether it is agreed that the plan is either a child protection plan or a child in need plan, further meetings will be arranged. If it is agreed that a Child Protection Plan is needed for your child, there will be a core group meeting every four weeks. If it is decided that a Child Protection Plan is not required for your child, there will be a child in need meeting within six weeks of the conference.
Your social worker and the protection chair will explain the purpose of these meetings and agree the dates with you and other professionals at the end of the conference.