1. If an outline child protection plan has been made for your child, another meeting will be held within ten days. This is called a core group meeting.This will be smaller than the child protection conference and less formal - the professionals most involved with you and your child (e.g. the social worker, health visitor and teacher) will be there. The meeting will be organised by your child’s social worker (lead social worker).
The core group meeting is important because it is where the outline child protection plan will be developed into a full, detailed child protection plan.
The child protection plan will not work unless you understand why the professionals are concerned about your child’s safety and are willing to work with them and do what is set out in the plan. So, it is important you read what was decided at the child protection conference, and go to the core group meeting ready to ask questions if there is anything you don’t understand. You will also need to make sure your views about the plan are understood. You may want to suggest ideas about what extra support would help you to care for your child and family. It is also a good idea to involve your wider family as soon as possible in working out how they can help you to keep your child safe – you could also ask for a family group conference.
Everyone should leave the core group meeting knowing what they should be doing, and by when, so as to make things better for your child. For example:
- you might commit to taking your child to the dentist within a month, getting your child to school on time every day, or going to parenting classes;
- your child’s head teacher might promise to offer after-school activities twice a week, or
- the housing officer might promise to sort out the disrepair in your flat within two weeks.
2. A child protection review conference is held three months after an initial child protection conference. Usually this meeting is chaired by the same person who chaired the initial conference, and the same professionals will be invited to attend. Parents (and other involved family members) will also normally be invited to attend.
The purpose of the review conference is to look at how the child protection plan is working to promote and protect your child's welfare. This will include looking at how you are working with the professionals and following the child protection plan, and whether or not there are still serious worries about the safety of your child and your ability to care for, and protect, him/her.
All professionals invited to the review conference should produce a report explaining their view about any improvements or any further concerns (if any) about your child's situation)
Before you go to the review conference, it will help if you think beforehand about what has changed in your family situation and what a difference these changes have made for your child.
The professionals at the child protection review conference can agree that your child is no longer suffering (or is no longer likely to suffer) serious harm and so doesn't need a child protection plan.. Or, they might decide that the child protection plan needs changing, or that your child should stay on the same child protection plan for the time being.
3. If the child protection review conference decides that your child is no longer suffering (or likely to suffer) significant harm, your child won't need to be on a child protection plan any more.
Most parents understandably feel very relieved when this happens, but it is worth thinking about whether you still want help to meet your child's needs, for example bereavement counselling for your child or other support to meet your child's specific needs. If it is decided that your child does need continuing support, a Child in Need plan will be made, setting out any help you will be offered. This help is known asfamily support services. If the social worker refuses to give you ongoing help for your child, you could politely remind them that the government says that getting support should not be dependent on your child being at risk of harm.
4. If the review conference decides that your child is still suffering (or is likely to suffer) significant harm, the child protection plan will remain in place and may be updated to make sure your child will be kept safe in the future.
It is important that you say what you think about any changes to the plan and that you work with all the professionals involved with your child to follow this plan.
However, in some circumstances, if you haven't been able to sort out the things that Children's Services are worried about and they have continuing concerns about your child's safety and well-being, they will hold a legal planning meeting to take legal advice about what steps they should take to protect your child. This may include providing you with a further period of support or applying to court immediately to remove your child from your care. In either case they should send you a letter telling you what they plan to do and why.