What should happen at a child protection conference

Showing a fictionalised case Anne and Terry’s story illustrates what happened when they went to an initial child protection conference. Using professionals in role, and actors as parents the film is realistic and engaging. It will help both parents and practitioners prepare for, and participate in, these important meetings.

Watch our new website film about child protection conferences here.

  1. A child protection conference is a meeting where many different professionals who are involved in your child's life (for example, the social worker, health visitor, teacher) and sometimes other people too (for example GP/medical experts) will come together to look at the information that has been collected during the child protection enquiries

  2. The welfare of each child in your household should be considered at the conference. Parents (and other family members who are involved with your child) are normally invited to the meeting. Everyone at the meeting (including you) will have a chance to talk about what they think about your child's situation, and what might help improve things for your child.

  3. You will normally get a copy of the social worker's report before the conference as well as written reports from the relevant professionals. This report is usually based on the current assessment that has been carried out. It is important that you read this report before the conference as it will help you to understand what the concerns are, and help you to decide what you want to say. If the social worker has got any information wrong in her report, it is a good idea to discuss this with the social worker before the conference. If, by the time of the conference, there are still things you don't agree with, you should raise this with the Chair of the conference. It is good practice for your views and opinions to be recorded.

  4. Everyone at the conference will be asked for relevant information about your family. You should be given a chance to comment on this information. All the professionals at the meeting will then be asked to give their opinion on whether or not they think your child has suffered harm and is likely to suffer significant harm in the future.  In other words they will be asked whether or not they have ongoing worries about your child and your ability to care for and/or protect him or her. The Chair of the conference will decide what it is that professionals are most worried about – physical, emotional, sexual abuse or neglect.

  5. If the conference decides that your child is suffering (or is likely to suffer) significant harm then the decision will be made for him/her to have a child protection plan. The aim of the plan is to try and stop any harm happening to your child and make things better for him/her. You will be expected to help make sure that any parts of the plan relating to you are carried out. Professionals at the meeting will:
    • say what they think the risks to your child are,
    • agree what should happen to improve your family situation, and
    • decide who will do what, and when.

    This is called an outline child protection plan.  It is important you understand what is being asked of you, and make sure that what you think you and your family need is included in the plan.

  6. At the end of the conference, a date should be set for a core group meeting (which should be held within 10 working days) and the review child protection conference (which will be held within three months).You will be given a written copy of the decisions made at the conference. You should also be sent a record of the discussion and decisions soon after conference.

  7. You will be given a written copy of the decisions made at the conference. You should also be sent a record of the discussion and decisions soon after conference.

Note: The child protection conference does not have the power to remove your child from your care. This can only happen if the court makes an order, or you agree, that your child should be removed. If is any suggestion that your child cannot remain in your care you should immediately get legal advice from a solicitor specialising in child care law or contact Family Rights Group advice line. For more information click here.