For detailed legal information see: advice sheet 9: Child protection procedures.
- A child protection conference is a large meeting where many different professionals who are involved in your child’s life (and sometimes other people too, for example medical experts) will come together to look at the information that has been collected during the child protection enquiries. Each child in the household should be considered. 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.
- You should get a copy of the social worker’s report (usually based on the current core assessment record) before the conference as well as written reports from the relevant professionals. Reading these documents beforehand (especially the social worker’s report) 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 facts 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. Your views and opinions should be recorded.
- 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 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.
- If it is agreed that your child 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 are the risk to your child are, agree what should happen to improve your family situation, and they will then 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.
- 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.
Frequently asked questions