What is a Child Protection Conference?
A Child Protection Conference is a meeting that is held because one or more professionals have serious concerns about the care and protection of your child. They will want to discuss these concerns with other workers to see if any action needs to be taken to make sure that your child is well looked after in the future.
The aim of the Conference is to decide whether your child is at risk of either physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect, and to make a multiagency decision as to whether or not a Protection Plan is needed.
Child Protection Conference Report Form [pdf document]
Frequently asked questions
Who will be at the Conference?
Any parent or carer who lives with the child, or who has parental responsibility (even if they are no longer together), will usually be invited. If there are other people in your family who can help everyone understand what is happening and be part of the plan to improve things for the children, they may be invited too.
Parents/carers will only be excluded in exceptional circumstances (for example, if the person is likely to disrupt the conference or if their presence might in any way adversely affects the welfare of the child). The final decision will be made by the Chairperson
The Conference will be arranged by Children Social Care, so your social worker will be there, often with their team manager.
If a child would like to attend the conference, this will need to be discussed with the chairperson before the meeting takes place - to make sure it is in the child's best interest. If the child does not want to/cannot attend but still want their wishes and views heard, they can complete My Conference Pack and this will be shared at the conference.
There will be other people there too. Who they are depends on the age of your child, but usually they will include the health visitor, someone from the police, the teacher or head teacher and GP. Other people will also be invited if they have been involved with your family (for example: school nurses, consultants, psychologists, CAMHS, probation officers)
Can I bring anyone to help me?
You may bring a friend or relative to act as a supporter. This person will not be there to represent you or be an advocate for you, and they cannot take part in discussions.
They can, however, sit with you and give you support before and after the Conference.
You may wish to bring your solicitor to the Conference. He/she can outline your views at the Conference but their role will be to assist you with what you want to say.
I can't make the Conference, can it be rearranged?
The Conference is about you and your children so it is important that you do take part. If you cannot attend then speak to your Social Worker, they may be able to get the Conference re-arranged or at least speak on your behalf.
What happens if I choose not to attend?
You can write your views down and this will be presented at the Conference. The Social Worker will tell you what happened after the Conference and you will also receive a letter confirming the outcome and recommendations.
Please don't be. The Conference may seem daunting, but you will be helped every step of the way. You don't have to speak at the Conference if you don't want to (you can ask someone else to speak on your behalf, or you can provide something in writing). You can ask for a break at any time, and ask for anything to be explained in more detail.
What will happen at the Conference?
The Chair will introduce themselves and ask everyone present to do the same. The Chair will then remind people that everything said in the meeting is confidential and is only to be used for the purposes of protecting your child.
The Chair will then ask if everyone has had a chance to read the reports. You should have had a chance to read the reports before the Conference starts. Each person will then be asked to discuss their involvement with your family. When this is done, you and other family members will be asked if you would like to say anything. This is your time to say what you want, ask questions or have your Solicitor, friend or relative speak for you.
Following this, the Social Worker and the Local Authority Solicitor may leave the Conference for a few minutes to receive confidential legal advice. You can also consult your Solicitor. When they return, there will be a discussion where everyone has the opportunity to express their views about whether or not your child should become subject to a Protection Plan.
If it is decided that your child is at continuing risk of significant harm, professionals will talk with you about what should go in this Protection Plan in order to keep your child safe.
If your child is not made subject to a Protection Plan, recommendations may still be made about how best to support your family.
What is a protection plan?
A Child Protection Plan will identify your child’s needs, what people are worried about and what needs to change to improve things. It will say who has to support you and what you need to do to keep your child healthy and safe.
If your child is made subject to a Protection Plan The Protection Plan will be monitored at Core Group meetings (the Core Group is a group of people who will work directly with your family and will meet each month to check that the child protection plan is working). The first one will be held within 10 working days of the Conference. The Core Group will meet monthly until the Review Conference. The Review Conference will take place within 3 months of the Initial Conference.
A Protection Plan can be discontinued at a Child Protection Review Conference, if it is decided that a child is no longer at continuing risk of significant harm as the likelihood of harm has been reduced through the Protection Plan or
- The child and family’s circumstances have changed
- The child and family have moved permanently to another Local Authority area in which case the receiving Local Authority should convene a Child Protection Conference. Only after this event may discontinuing the Child Protection Plan take place in the original Local Authority.
- The child has reached 18 years of age, has died or has permanently left the UK.
If a Protection Plan is discontinued the Local Authority may remain involved with your family for a monitoring period to offer further support and advice.
If I disagree or am unhappy about something, can I complain?
If you disagree with a decision made at the Conference, or are unhappy about something that happened within the Conference, you can talk to the Social Worker, their Manager or the Chair; or you can formally complain in writing through the Complaints Procedure
These packs help explain the Conference process to the child and determine their wishes and feelings. Packs are to be completed by a nominated person and child.
My Conference Pack [pdf document, 539kb]
My Conference Pack - teenagers [pdf document]
My Conference Pack - social worker and child [pdf document, 515kb]
Comments sheet [pdf document]