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When to Convene a Child Protection Conference
4.1 The decision to convene a Child Protection Conference is not automatic in every case. The significant factor in the decision whether or not to call a conference is that there are unresolved/ongoing child protection concerns at the conclusion of enquiries made under Section 47 of the Children Act. The enquiries will have been carried out by the Local Authority’s Children’s Service following consultation with the Police and others, but may or may not have resulted in a joint investigation by Local Authority’s Children’s Service and the Police.
4.2 There may be substantiated concerns that a child or young person has suffered significant harm, but it is then agreed between the involved agencies and the child/young person and family, that a plan for ensuring the child or young person’s safety and welfare can be agreed without the need for a Child Protection Conference or a Child Protection Plan.
4.3 A Child Protection Conference may not be required when there are sound reasons, based on an analysis of evidence obtained through enquiries, for judging that a child or young person is not at continuing risk of significant harm. This may be because, for example, the care giver has taken responsibility for the harm they caused the child or young person, the family’s circumstances have changed, or the person responsible for the harm is no longer in contact with the child or young person. It may be because significant harm occurred as the result of an isolated abusive incident (e.g. abuse by a stranger).
4.4 Alternatively, the agencies most involved may judge that a parent, carer, or members of the child’s wider family are willing to co-operate with actions to ensure the child or young person’s future safety and well being. This judgement can only be made in the light of all relevant information obtained during enquiries on evidence based assessment of the likelihood of successful intervention.
4.5 It is important to seek children and young people’s views and take account of their wishes and feelings, according to their age and understanding. In these circumstances, a Child in Need meeting of professionals and family members, including child or young person where appropriate, may be useful to agree what actions should be undertaken by whom and with what intended outcomes for the child or young person’s health, safety and development.
4.6 Whatever process is used to plan future action, the resulting plan should be informed by the core assessment findings and set out:
- Who will have responsibility for what actions, including what course of action should be followed if the plan is not successfully implemented.
- It should also include a time-scale for review of progress against intended outcomes.
4.7 Those professionals and agencies who are most involved with the child or young person and the family and those who have taken part in the enquiries, have the right to request that Local Authority’s Children’s Service convene a Child Protection Conference if they have serious concerns that a child or young person may not otherwise be adequately safeguarded. Any request that is supported by a senior manager, or a named or designated professional, should normally be agreed. Where there remain differences of view over the need for a conference in a specific case, every effort should be made to resolve them through discussion and explanation, but as a last resort the LSCB should be consulted to resolve differences of opinion.
4.8 The decision to hold a conference is made by the Service Manager and/or Principal Social Worker, following discussion with the Social Worker undertaking the enquiries.
4.9 The involvement of a conference Chair at this early stage is crucial, in order that the Chair can check all the necessary issues are covered.
4.10 Local Authority’s Children’s Service should take carefully any decision not to proceed to a Child Protection Conference where it is known that a child or young person has suffered significant harm.
4.11 Where the agencies most involved consider that a child or young person may continue to suffer, or to be at risk of suffering significant harm, the Local Authority’s Children’s Service should convene a Child Protection Conference. The aim of the conference is to enable those professionals most involved with the child or young person and family and the family themselves, to access all relevant information and to plan how best to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child or young person.
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The Role of the Chair
4.12 A professional who is independent of operational or line management responsibilities for the case should chair the conference. Chair persons are accountable to the Deputy Director for Vulnerable Children within Children’s Services.
4.13 Wherever possible the same person should also chair subsequent child protection reviews in respect of the specific child or young person. The responsibilities of the Chair include:
- Meeting the child, children, young person or young persons and family members in advance, to ensure that they understand the purpose of the conference and what will happen;
- Setting out the purpose of the conference to all present and emphasizing the confidential nature of the occasion;
- Enabling all those present and using absent contributors reports, to make their full contribution to discussion and decision making;
- Ensuring that the conference takes the decisions required of it, in an informed, objective and explicit way.
- Being accountable to the Deputy Director for Vulnerable Children within Children’s Services for the conduct of conferences.
4.14 A conference Chair should be trained in the role and should have:
- a good understanding and professional knowledge of children’s welfare and development and best practice in working with children, young people and families
- the ability to look objectively at and assess the implications of the evidence on which judgements are based
- skills in chairing meetings in a way which encourages constructive participation, while maintaining a clear focus on the welfare of the child or young person and the decisions which have to be taken
- knowledge and understanding of anti-discriminatory practice;
- knowledge of relevant legislation, including that relating to Children’s Services and human rights.
4.15 Effective chairing is dependent upon:
- Full and adequate reports and information being received at least 24 hours in advance of the initial conference and including chronologies of significant events;
- Full and adequate reports and information being received at least 5 working days in advance of the Review Conference, including chronologies of significant events;
- The Chair being briefed of any potential difficulties by any agency in advance of the conference, see point 4.29;
- Child or young person and family participation in the conference being discussed in advance and necessary arrangements for their participation made;
- Children, young people and their carers should be given a copy of the LSCB information booklets on Conferences by the Social Worker who should make time to go through the information with them.
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4.16 An effective conference depends upon the attendance and written contributions by professionals who know and are involved with the child or young person and family and efforts should be made to ensure their participation.
4.17 Those attending a conference should be there because they have a significant contribution to make, arising from professional expertise, knowledge of the child or young person and family or both. There should be sufficient expertise to enable the conference to make an informed decision about what action is necessary to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child or young person and to make realistic and workable proposals for taking that action forward.
4.18 It is the social worker’s responsibility to ensure that professionals who have been involved with the child or young person and family have been invited to contribute to the conference. This includes ensuring that where a child or young person has changed school or General Practitioner, the previous school or GP are invited and the midwife in respect of an unborn child.
4.19 To count as a separate professional group or agency, there must be a separate line of management accountability.
4.20 The following attend in an advisory, supportive or information gathering capacity only:
- Local Authority Legal Service, (Child Protection)
- Children’s Family Court Advisor (CAFCASS) (Children’s Guardian in care proceedings) and/or child or young person’s Solicitor
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4.21 It is an essential requirement that for each Child Protection Conference there are sufficient participants to provide appropriate information and contribute to a full and reasoned evaluation of risk, decision making and the formulation of a protection or Child in Need plan.
4.22 As a minimum, there should be at least the following in attendance:-
- A professional representative from Local Authority’s Children’s Service
- A representative from at least two other professional groups or agencies who have had relevant/direct contact with the child or young person who is the subject of the conference.
4.23 This criterion for quoracy should be met for each child or young person.
4.24 An exception to this is where a child or young person has not had relevant/direct contact with 3 agencies, e.g. unborn child. In such circumstances this minimum quorum may be breached. Parents/children/ young people/carers are not involved in the decision making process and do not count for the purposes of quoracy. Conference chairs have the discretion to continue with a conference which does not have the right amount of people in order that key decisions can be made and time-scales adhered to. In these cases it is often appropriate to organise an early review.
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Participation of Children and Family Members
4.25 Before a conference is held, the purpose of the conference, who will attend and the way in which it will operate should always be explained to a child or young person of sufficient age and understanding and to the parents and involved family members.
4.26 The parents should normally be invited to attend the conference and helped fully to participate. To assist participation, agencies will share the contents of their report to conference, prior to the conference taking place, with the child or young person (if of sufficient age and understanding) and parents/carers. The child or young person and family members should be helped to think about what they want to convey to the conference and how best to get their point across. If the parents choose to do so, they may bring an advocate, friend or supporter.
4.27 The child or young person, subject to consideration about age and understanding, should be given the opportunity to attend if they wish and to bring an advocate, friend or supporter. Where the child or young person’s attendance is neither desired by the child or young person nor appropriate, then the Social Worker will ascertain the child or young person’s wishes and feelings and make these known to the conference.
4.28 The involvement of family members should be planned carefully. It may not be possible to involve all family members at all times in the conference, for example, if one parent is the alleged abuser or if there is a high level of conflict between family members, or confidential third party information. Adults and any children and young people who wish to attend the conference may not wish to speak in front of one another.
4.29 Exceptionally, it may be necessary to exclude one or more family members from a conference, in whole or part. The conference is primarily about the child or young person and those professionals attending must be able to share information in a safe, non-threatening environment. Where professionals have concerns about violence or intimidation, this should be discussed at the time the written contribution is sent to the conference Chair. The conference Chair will base the decision to exclude a family member for one or more of the following reasons:
- A strong risk of violence or intimidation by a family member at or subsequent to the conference, towards any conference member;
- The attendance of a parent, child or young person for the whole conference may prejudice the full consideration of the child or young person’s interests;
- The Chair, in consultation with the Social Worker, considers that the parent, child or young person would be unable to cope due to issues of psychiatric illness or trauma. This decision should be based on some evidence and not rely on the participants anxiety about what might happen;
- A major part of the information to be discussed may be third party, e.g. spouse/current co-habitee. This may also be the case when significant information is held by another Local Authority;
- Evidence indicates that the parent, child or young person’s behaviour is likely to disrupt, obstruct or otherwise exploit the conference;
- Where the interests of the parent and child or young person conflict, the child or young person’s interests will take priority.
- The possibility that a parent/carer may be prosecuted for an offence against a child or young person is not itself a reason for exclusion although in these circumstances the Chair should take advice from the police about any implications arising from an alleged perpetrators attendance. If criminal proceedings have been instigated the view of the Crown Prosecution Service should be taken into account.
4.30 Where it is decided to exclude a family member for all or part of the conference for the sort of reasons listed above, this must be recorded in the minutes and an excluded party should be enabled to communicate their views to conference by another means. The chair person will write to excluded parties advising them of the reasons for the decision and ensure that they have a medium for communicating their views. The exception to this would be where such an action would increase risk to any party.
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4.31 Advocates would usually include extended family members, neighbours and friends who are able to offer support and assistance to the child or young person and/or family. They should not be active participants in the meeting unless they are speaking in support of the family member.
4.32 Advocates will need to be advised of the need to be excluded if third party information is being shared.
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4.33 Legal advisors should be included in this category. They should be advised that they are not able to participate in the conference and are there in an observatory role only.
4.34 Where a Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services Officer has been appointed as the children or young person’s guardian they should be advised of conferences being convened and confirm attendance with the Chairperson. The Solicitor acting on behalf of the child or young person is also able to attend, either with or without the Children’s Family Court advisor (Children’s Guardian). They are able to provide information at the conference if it is considered that it has an impact on the planning and protection of the child or young person, but are not able to express a view regarding the requirement for a Child Protection Plan.
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Participation by Professionals
4.35 The best decisions/outcomes for children and young people depend upon the full participation of all agencies. This is achieved by:
- The provision of a report in advance to the Chair: 24 hours in advance of Initial Conferences and 5 working days in advance of Review Conferences.
- Sharing the content of the report with the family prior to the conference.
- Adequate preparation by professionals attending, which enables their full participation in discussion and decision making. All participants in the conference are jointly responsible for the quality of the discussion and decision making. In the case of an Initial conference, preparation may involve prior telephone discussion with other key professionals in order to appraise themselves of the general family circumstances and events leading to conference.
- It is important that all professionals attending an Initial Child Protection Conference have made an initial assessment of risk to the child or young person and any unmet needs the child or young person may have.
Please note that Humberside police are an exception to the above and will provide reports for all conferences 24 hours in advance.
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4.36 The Social Worker will provide a written report for the conference that summarises and analyses the information obtained. The Child Protection Conference report will include:
- A chronology of significant events and agency and professional contact with the child or young person and family
- Information on the child or young person’s current and past state of developmental needs
- Information on the capacity of the parents and other family members to ensure this child or young person is safe from harm and to respond to the child or young person’s developmental needs, within their wider family and environmental context
- Information on the family history and both the current and past family functioning
- The expressed views, wishes and feelings of the child or young person, parents and other family members; and
- An analysis of the information gathered and recorded using the assessment framework dimensions to reach a judgement on whether the child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm and how best to meet his or her development al needs. The analysis should address
- How the child’s strengths and difficulties are impacting on each other
- How the parenting strengths and difficulties are affecting each other
- How the family and environmental factors are affecting each other
- How the parenting that is provided for the child is affecting the child’s health and development both in terms of resilience and protective factors, and vulnerability and risk factors; and
- How the family and environmental factors are impacting on parenting and/or the child directly; and
- The local authority’s recommendation to conference .
4.37 All other agency reports must include a chronology of significant events known to each agency from their contact with the child or young person and family, for example:
- Hospital admission
- Non attendance at school
- Family contacts with the Police (including domestic violence, contact with carers as victims)
- Significant behavioural indicators on the part of the child or young person
- Significant changes in the child or young person’s life e.g. address, school, GP, family composition
4.38 In addition all conference reports should focus on:
- Information on the child or young person’s health and development, including risks and unmet needs;
- Information on the capacity of the parent(s)/carers to ensure the child or young person’s safety from harm and to promote the child or young person’s health and development, including strengths and weaknesses of the parent(s)/carers and extended family members.
- The impact that the current and past family functioning and family history are having on the parents capacities to meet the child’s needs
- The expressed views, wishes and feelings of the child or young person, parent(s) and other family members;
- Analysis of the implications of the information obtained for the child or young person’s safety, health and development, including opportunities for change;
- Services currently being provided and services needed
N.B All professionals should be aware that, as with other documentation, their report might be subject to disclosure in legal proceedings.
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The Initial Child Protection Conference
4.39 The purpose of the conference is for professionals and the relevant family members to meet together to look at how best to safeguard and promote the child or young person’s welfare. It is essential that both the child or young person and parents/carers views wishes and feelings be represented at the conference.
4.40 The conference should make an assessment of the likelihood of continued risk of significant harm to the child or young person. This analysis should take into account the information which has been obtained about the child or young person’s developmental needs and the parents/carers capacity to respond to these to ensure the child or young person’s safety and promote the child or young person’s health and development within the context of their wider family and environment.
4.41 The conference should consider these issues using the Framework for Assessment of Children in Need.
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Timing of the Initial Child Protection Conference
4.42 If conference is to reach well informed decisions based on evidence, it should take place following adequate preparation and assessment of the child or young person’s circumstances. However, cases should not be allowed to drift and consequently all Initial Child Protection Conferences should take place within 15 working days of the last strategy meeting.
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Agenda for Initial Conferences
4.43 The actual agenda is available in Appendix D.
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The Decision to Make the Child Subject to a Child Protection Plan
4.44 The decision as to whether the child or young person should be the subject of a Child Protection Plan must be agreed by all agencies attending the conference. The effect of this does not mean that any single agency has the right to veto the decision, but, that all agencies have a responsibility to work towards agreement (consensus) through discussion at the conference.
4.45 All agency staff attending conference should have sufficient training and experience to enable them to participate in the decision making process. In situations where the nominated person is unable to attend the representative from that agency should be sufficiently briefed to enable them to participate in decision making.
4.46 In the unlikely event that consensus cannot be reached, the conference will be adjourned to allow the Chair to consult with appropriate managers from the agencies represented. The child or young person will be the subject of a Child Protection Plan during the adjournment period. Agency leads should discuss the views of all colleagues with their line manager. The line manager should speak to the conference chair and should submit a report to the conference outlining their final decision and the reasoning behind this. The conference will then be reconvened as soon as possible, or if the Chair’s discussion with managers results in a decision not to make the child or young person the subject of a Child Protection Plan, the Chair may wish to inform conference members in writing. In the very unlikely event that consensus can still not be reached and where there is a majority vote, the conference chair will be given the authority by the LSCB to agree with the majority decision where he / she feels it appropriate in safeguarding to the child Where there is a split decision, the LSCB will authorise the conference chair to have the casting vote.
The Framework for Assessment of Children in Need is attached to the bottom of this page.
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The Conference needs to consider one principal question:
Is the child at continuing risk of significant harm?
4.47 The test should be that either:
- The child or young person can be shown to have suffered ill treatment or impairment of health or development as a result of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or neglect and the professional judgement is that further ill treatment or impairment is likely.
- Professional judgement, substantiated by the findings of enquiries in this individual case or by research evidence, is that the child or young person is expected to suffer ill treatment or the impairment of health/development as a result of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or neglect.
4.48 If the test is met, it will therefore follow that the child or young person requires inter-agency help and intervention delivered through a formal Child Protection Plan.
4.49 Conference participants should base these judgements on all the available evidence obtained through existing records, the initial and core assessment and Section 47 enquiries. If the above test is satisfied, the child or young person should be the subject of a Child Protection Plan.
4.50 Once a decision has been taken that the child or young person is at continuing risk of significant harm and in need of a Child Protection Plan, the Chair should determine under which category of abuse or neglect the child or young person has suffered or is suffering. The category used (that is physical, emotional, sexual abuse or neglect) will indicate to those consulting the child or young person’s social care record the primary presenting concerns at the time the child or young person became the subject of a child protection plan.
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Categories of Significant Harm
- Category 1 Neglect
- Category 2 Physical harm
- Category 3 Sexual harm
- Category 4 Emotional harm only
4.51 Examples of these categories of harm include:-
- Neglect: exposure to any kind of danger, including cold or starvation, or extreme failure to carry out important aspects of care, resulting in the significant impairment of the child or young person’s health or development, including non-organic failure to thrive.
- Physical injury: Actual or likely physical injury to a child or young person, or the failure to prevent physical injury (or suffering) to a child or young person, including deliberate poisoning, suffocation, fabricated/induced illness.
- Sexual harm: Actual or likely sexual exploitation of a child, young person or adolescent, including:
- Other forms of sexual activity such as fondling, mutual masturbation, oral sex and intercourse and the involvement of children and young people in pornographic activity.
- The exposure of a child or young person to any sexual experiences which are inappropriate and/or illegal and are an invasion of the child or young person’s rights over their own bodies and sexuality
- Emotional harm: Actual or likely severe adverse effect on the emotional and behavioural development of a child or young person caused by persistent or severe emotional ill-treatment or rejection. All harm involves some emotional ill-treatment and this category should only be used where it is the main or sole form of harm.
4.52 A child or young person may not be the subject of a Child Protection Plan, but he or she may require services to promote his or her health or development. In these circumstances, it may be appropriate to draw up a Child in Need Plan to be reviewed at regular intervals.
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Child Protection Plan
4.53 Where a child or young person is to be the subject of a Child Protection Plan it is the responsibility of the conference to consider and make recommendations on how agencies, professionals and the family should work together to ensure the child or young person will be safeguarded from harm in the future. This should enable both professionals and the family to understand exactly what is expected from them and what they can expect of others. Specific tasks include the following:
- Appointing the lead statutory body, usually the Local Authority’s Children’s Service and a lead social worker (the lead professional) who should be a qualified and experienced Social Worker and an employee of the lead statutory body;
- Identifying the membership of a core group of professionals and family members who will develop and implement the Child Protection Plan as a detailed working tool;
- Family members (including those with parental responsibility) and child, children, young person or young people should be involved in the planning and implementation process of the core group. Support, advice and advocacy should be made available to them;
- Establishing time-scales for meetings of the core group, production of a Child Protection Plan and for recommendations to Child Protection Review Conferences;
- Identifying in outline what further core and specialist assessments of the child or young person and family are required to make sound judgements on how to best safeguard and promote the welfare of the child or young person;
- Outlining the Child Protection Plan, especially, identifying what needs to change in order to achieve the planned outcomes to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child or young person;
- Considering the need for a contingency plan if circumstances change quickly.
- Clarifying the different purpose and remit of the Initial Conference, the Core Group and the Child Protection Review Conference.
- Agreeing a date for the first child protection review conference and under what circumstances it might be necessary to convene the conference before that date.
4.54 The Initial Child Protection Conference is responsible for agreeing an outline Child Protection Plan. Professionals and parent(s) should work out the details of the plan in the Core Group. The aim of the plan is to:
- Ensure the child or young person is safe and prevent him or her from suffering further harm
- promote the child or young person’s health and development; and
- Provided it is in the best interests of the child or young person, to support parent(s) and wider family members to safeguard and to promote the welfare of the child or young person.
4.55 The Outline Child Protection Plan should:
- identify factors associated with the likelihood of the child or young person suffering significant harm and ways in which the child or young person can be protected through an inter-agency plan based on assessment findings;
- establish short-term and longer-term aims and objectives that are clearly linked to inducing the likelihood of harm to the child or young person and promoting the child or young person’s welfare, including contact with family members;
- be clear about who will have responsibility for what actions within specified time-scales;
- outline ways of monitoring and evaluating progress against the planned outcomes set out in the plan.
- be clear about which professional is responsible for checking that the required changes have taken place and what action will be taken if they have not.
4.56 The Child Protection Plan should:
- describe the identified developmental needs of the child or young person and what therapeutic services are required to meet these needs;
- include specific, achievable, child-focused outcomes intended to safe guard and promote the welfare of the child;
- include realistic strategies and specific actions to bring about the changes necessary to achieve the planned outcomes
- clearly identify and set out the roles and responsibilities of family members and professionals including the nature and frequency of the contact by professionals with the child or young person and family;
- lay down points at which progress will be reviewed and the means by which progress will be judged;
- set out clearly the roles and responsibilities of those professionals with routine contact with the child or young person e.g. health visitors, GP’s and teachers, as well as any specialist or targeted support to the child or young person and family;
- include a contingency plan to be followed if circumstances change significantly and require prompt action.
4.57 The Child Protection Plan should take into account the wishes and feelings of the child or young person and the view of the parents, in as far as they are consistent with the child or young person’s welfare.
4.58 The recommendations of the conference will provide the framework for the Child Protection Plan or, where the child or young person is not subject to a Child Protection Plan, Child(ren) in Need Services. A Core Group will be identified at the conference, whose function is to determine the actions and services to be provided and the nature of any further assessments required in order to implement the Child Protection or Child(ren) in Need Services.
4.59 All members of the core group have equal ownership of and responsibility for the Child Protection Plan and Child(ren) in need services and should cooperate to achieve its aims.
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Discussing the Plan with the Child or Young Person
4.60 The Child Protection Plan should be explained to and agreed with the child or young person in a manner which is in accordance with their age and understanding. The child or young person should be given a copy of the plan written at a level appropriate to his or her age and understanding and in his or her preferred language. An interpreter should be used if the child’s level of English means that they would not be able to participate fully in these discussions unless they are conducted in their own language.
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Discussing the Plan with Parents
4.61 Parents should be clear about the evidence of significant harm, what needs to change and about what is expected of them. Parents should receive a written copy of the plan so that they are clear about who is doing what and when and the planned outcomes for the child or young person.
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Requests for Specialist Assessment
4.62 If the conference decides that there is a need for a specialist assessment to be undertaken, there must be clarity about what is being requested. For example, if there is concern about a parent/carers behaviour/mental health, it is not sufficient to request a mental health assessment if what is required is an assessment of the parent/carers behaviour/mental health and an assessment of the possible risks this may present to the child or young person. Any requests for this kind of assessment should be made in writing clearly stating what kind of assessment is being requested and for what purpose.
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The Core Group
4.63 The core group is responsible for working to develop and implement the Child Protection Plan as a detailed working tool, within a clearly defined remit laid down at the Initial Child Protection Conference. The first meeting should take place within 10 working days of the Initial Child Protection Conference. Membership should include the lead social worker who leads the core group, the child or young person if appropriate, family members and professionals who will have direct contact with the family. Although the lead social worker has the lead responsibility for the formulation and implementation of the child protection plan, all members of the Core Group are jointly responsible for carrying out theses tasks, refining the plan as needed and monitoring progress against the planned outcomes set out in the plan. Agencies should ensure that members of the core group undertake their roles and responsibilities effectively in accordance with the agrees child protection plan.
4.64 Core Groups are an important forum for working with parent(s) and children or young people of sufficient age and understanding. It can often be difficult for parents to agree to a Child Protection Plan within the confines of a formal conference. Their agreement may be achieved later when details of the plan are worked out in the Core Group. Sometimes there may be conflicts of interest between family members who have a relevant interest in the work of the Core Group. The child or young person’s best interests will always have precedence over the interests of other family members.
4.65 There must be a Core Group for every child or young person subject to a Child Protection Plan and also in cases where a package of Child(ren) in Need Services is being provided as an alternative to being subject to a Child Protection Plan. The Core Group is a team of practitioners from the various agencies who are in regular contact with a child or young person and their family and who are able to implement the key elements of the Child Protection/Child in Need Plan with the child or young person and family.
4.66 The Initial Conference will decide which practitioners will form the Core Group, on the basis of whose involvement is required in order to implement the plan.
4.67 The Core Group will work within the Child Protection/Child(ren) in Need Plan and any guidance given by the conference in respect of the decision-making ability delegated to the Group. Core Group members are jointly responsible for implementing the Child Protection/Child(ren) in Need Plan.
4.68 Where the recommendations agreed at conference are not or cannot be implemented the key worker will discuss with the conference chair to determine whether this change affects the child protection plan and the ability to safeguard the child. Any changes or difficulties in implementing the Plan must be referred to a Child Protection/Child in Need Review.
4.69 The discussions and decisions of the core group will be recorded. The Core Group should ensure that a thorough review of the areas identified by the Child Protection/Child(ren) in Need Plan is carried out for each Child Protection/Child in Need Review. A core group form is available in Appendix D.
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4.70 Decisions about how to intervene, including what services to offer, should be based on evidence about what is likely to work best to bring about good outcomes for the child or young person.
4.71 The development of secure parent-child attachments is critical to a child or young person’s healthy development. The quality and nature of the attachment will be a key issue to be considered in decision making, especially if decisions are being made about moving a child or young person from one setting to another; re-uniting a child or young person with his or her birth family; or considering a permanent placement away from the child or young person’s family.
4.72 A key issue in deciding on suitable interventions will be whether the child or young person’s developmental needs can be responded to within his or her family context and within time-scales that are appropriate for the child or young person. These time-scales may not be compatible with those for the caregiver(s) who is/are in receipt of therapeutic help.
4.73 Where the family situation is not improving or changing fast enough to respond to the child or young person’s needs, decisions will be necessary about the long-term future of the child or young person. In the longer term it may mean it will be in the best interests of the child or young person to be placed in an alternative family context. Key to these considerations is what is in the child or young person’s best interests, informed by the child or young person’s wishes and feelings.
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The Child Protection Review Conference
4.74 The date of the first Review conference must be set at the Initial Conference and must be held within three months of the Initial Child Protection Conference. Further reviews will be held at intervals of not more than 6 months for as long as the child or young person remains the subject of a Child Protection Plan.
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The Focus of the Child Protection Review Conference
4.75 The purpose of the Child Protection Review Conference is:
- to review whether the child is continuing to suffer or likely to suffer, significant harm and their health and developmental progress against planned outcomes set out in the child protection plan
- to ensure that the child or young person continues to be safeguarded from harm;
- to consider whether the Child Protection Plan needs to continue or should be changed.
4.76 The Review Conference requires as much preparation, commitment and management as the Initial Child Protection Conference. Every Review Conference should consider explicitly whether the child or young person continues to be at risk of significant harm and continues to need safeguarding through adherence to a formal Child Protection Plan. If not, then the child or young person should no longer be the subject of a Child Protection Plan. The same LSCB decision making procedure should be used to reach a judgement on the need for a Child Protection Plan as is used at the Initial Child Protection Conference.
4.77 The criteria for convening a Child Protection Review Conference are:
- statutory action recommended by the Initial Child Protection Conference needs to be reviewed;
- there is evidence of further harm to a child or young person already subject to a Child Protection Plan;
- completion of an assessment of the child or young person and family;
- changes in family circumstances jeopardises the Child Protection Plan;
- the appropriate time has passed since the previous conference.
4.78 Reports should include:
- Dates of contacts with the child or family since the last Conference/Child Protection Review;
- Progress on the implementation of recommendation relating to your agency
- Any outstanding issues;
- Whether, in your agency’s view, the Child Protection Plan continues to meet the needs of the child or young person and family;
- Any further action to be taken.
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Agenda for Review Conference
An agenda for the above is available in Appendix C.
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Discontinuing the Child Protection Plan
4.79 A child or young person should no longer be the subject of a Child Protection Plan if
- It is judged that the child or young person is no longer at continuing risk of significant harm and requiring safeguarding by means of a Child Protection Plan (e.g. the risk of harm has been reduced by action taken through the Child Protection Plan, the child or young person’s and family’s circumstances have changed and assessment of the child or young person and family indicates that a Child Protection Plan is not necessary);
- The child or young person and the family have moved permanently to another Local Authority area. In such cases the receiving Local Authority should convene a Child Protection Conference within 15 working days of being notified of the move, only after which event may discontinuing the Child Protection Plan take place in respect of the original authority’s Child Protection Plan;
- The child or young person has reached 18 years of age, has died, or has permanently left the UK.
4.80 Only a Child Protection Review Conference can decide that a child or young person is no longer at continuing risk of significant harm in the case of a) above. Discontinuing the Child Protection Plan for a child who has moved out of the area can take place once the receiving authority has held a transfer in conference.
When a child is no longer the subject of a child protection plan notification should be sent, at a minimum to all those agency representatives who were invited to attend the initial child protection conference which lead to the plan.
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Children Looked After by the Local Authority
4.81 Where a child or young person is Looked After and subject to a Child Protection Plan consideration should be given to discontinuing the Child Protection Plan unless Agencies had specific concerns regarding their care arrangements. The Child Protection Plan should take place/continue where there are continued concerns and/or where there are plans to return the child or young person home.
Where a looked after child is or remains the subject of a child protection plan it is expected that there will be a single planning and reviewing process led by the Independent Reviewing Officer, in conjunction with the child protection conference chair person, which meets both LSCB guidance and the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010.
This means that the timing of the review of the child protection aspects of the care plan should be the same as the review under the care planning, placement and case review regulations 2010 to ensure that up to date information in relation to the child’s welfare and safety is conducted in the review meeting and informs the overall care planning process. The looked after child’s review when reviewing the child protection aspects of the plan should also consider whether the criteria continue to be met for the child to remain the subject of a child protection plan. Significant changes to the care plan should only be made following a looked after child’s review.
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Pre Birth Child Protection Conferences and Reviews
Where a core assessment under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989 gives rise to concerns that an unborn child may be likely to suffer significant harm local authority children’s social care may decide to convene an initial child protection conference prior to the child’s birth. Such a conference should have the same status, and proceed in the same way, as other initial child protection conferences, including decisions about child protection plan. It is the same in respect of child protection review conferences. The involvement of midwifery is vital in such cases.
An initial conference will not normally be convened before the 24th week of pregnancy, but should take place by the 30th week of pregnancy.
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Child(ren) in Need Plan
4.82 A child or young person who is no longer subject to a Child Protection Plan may still be in need of additional support and services and the discontinuation of the Child Protection Plan should never lead to the automatic withdrawal of help. The lead social worker should discuss with the parent(s) and the child or young person what services might be wanted and needed, based upon the assessment of the child or young person and family.
4.83 A Child(ren) in Need Plan should be presented to conference when the discontinuation of the Child Protection Plan is being recommended by the Core Group.
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Review Of Child(ren) In Need Plan
4.84 The purpose of the review is to provide an opportunity for the family and professionals to meet together to review whether or not the Child(ren) in Need is proving effective in meeting identified needs.
4.85 In carrying out the review the family and professionals will:
- Consider the work and role of the Core Group;
- Examine the services/support offered and consider whether or not they continue to meet the family’s needs;
- Consider what further action/support services are necessary.
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Common Assessment Framework
Some children will not be assessed as requiring a child in need plan but may have some additional needs to those children receiving universal services. In these circumstances a referral to the common assessment framework coordinators would be appropriate.
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Minutes of Child Protection Conferences
4.86 Minutes are an essential working tool in child protection. Minutes are not a verbatim account but a summary of important things said. Each conference will have a person who will take a written record of the meeting and should be produced in a structured format.
4.87 Minutes should record facts, decisions, analysis of the facts and recommendations, the Child Protection Plan and professional opinion. They allow justification for recommendations and opinions to be traced. Copies of minutes will be circulated following the conference within twenty five working days to all those who attended, including family members, except for any part of the conference from which they were excluded. The Chair can decide whether professionals who were not present at the meeting should have copies of the minutes.
4.88 Minutes should be kept secure and not passed to or discussed with a third party without the consent of the Chair.
4.89 Minutes are intended to be an accurate record of the meeting. Any amendments to the minutes should be received by the conference Chairperson within five working days of receipt.
4.90 The minute taker’s hand written notes will be kept on file for ten working days following the date of the dispatch of the formal conference minutes. After this time has passed the hand written notes will be destroyed.
4.91 In the event of a request to look at the hand written notes prior to disposal, arrangements will be made via the conference Chair for the notes to be viewed with the exception of third party information.
4.92 Hand written notes will not be copied for distribution to any party.
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Recording that a Child or Young Person is the Subject of a Child Protection Plan
4.93 Local Authority’s Children’s Services Service IT record in the child or young person’s case record when the child or young person is the subject of a Child Protection Plan is able to produce a list of all the children and young people resident in the area (including those placed there by another Local Authority or agency) who are considered to be at risk of significant harm and for whom there is a Child Protection Plan. This allows agencies and professionals to be aware of those children and young people who are judged to be at risk of significant harm and who are the subject of a Child Protection Plan. Legitimate enquirers such as the Police and health professionals are able to obtain this information both inside and outside office hours. This information is managed within the Local Authority Children and Family Services Safeguarding and reviewing unit.
4.94 The information is confidential other than to legitimate enquirers.
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Enquiries to the List of Children and Young People Subject to a Child Protection Plan
4.95 Enquiries should be directed to the safeguarding and reviewing unit and the person making the enquiry should furnish as much detail as possible regarding the subject about whom they are enquiring.
4.96 To safeguard confidentiality a “call back” system will be operated.
4.97 If an enquiry is made about a child or young person and the child or young person’s case is open to Local Authority Children’s Services, the enquirer should be given the name of the child or young person’s lead social worker and the lead social worker informed of this enquiry so that they can follow it up.
4.98 If an enquiry is made about a child or young person at the same address as a child or young person who is the subject of a Child Protection Plan, this information should be sent to the lead social worker of the child or young person who is the subject of the Child Protection Plan.
4.99 If an enquiry is made but the child or young person is not known to Local Authority Children’s Services, the enquiry will be recorded as a contact, together with the advice given to the enquirer. In the event of there being a second enquiry about a child or young person who is not known to Children’s Services, not only should the fact of the earlier enquiry be notified to the later enquirer, but the designated manager in Local Authority Children’s Services should ensure that Local Authority Children’s Services consider whether this is or may be a child in need.
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Request for a Change of Worker
4.100 Occasions may arise where relationships between parents, or other family members, are not productive in terms of working to safeguard and promote the welfare of their children. In such instances, agencies should respond sympathetically to a request for a change of worker, provided that such a change can be identified as being in the interests of the child or young person who is the focus of concern.
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Effective Support and Supervision
4.101 Working to ensure children or young people are protected from harm requires sound professional judgements to be made. It is demanding work that can be distressing and stressful. All of those involved should have access to advice and support from, for example, peers, managers and named and designated professionals.
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