How should I prepare for a child protection conference?

If the child protection 'enquiries' and assessment show that your child may be suffering (or is likely to suffer) significant harm, an initial child protection conference will be organised.

A child protection conference is a meeting at which many different professionals who are involved in your child's life (for example, the social worker, health visitor, teacher, GP) and sometimes other people too (for example, medical experts) come together to look at the information that has been collected during the child protection enquiries and assessment. Ask the social worker if someone with expertise in working with families experiencing domestic violence has been invited to the conference and if this is not the case then ask if you can discuss this gap in expertise with the conference chair.

If your child is old enough she or he should also be invited. If your child is too young to attend, your child's social worker or an advocate for your child should make sure that your child's views are heard at the conference.

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 there are any errors in the report, or you don't agree with the result of the assessment, it is a good idea to discuss this with the social worker before the conference. You can also tell the Chair of the conference if there is information in the report that is not correct.