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Child Protection Conferences - A Guide for Parents and Carers

What is a Child Protection Conference?
The conference is a meeting held that involves you and all the professionals involved with your child(ren) if professionals have serious concerns about your child(ren)'s welfare following enquiries. The people present at the conference share information about their involvement with your family, assess the risk to your child(ren) and decide if there needs to be a plan to protect your child(ren).

Who will be at the conference?
You will be invited, as will your child(ren), if they are old enough.
Professionals such as your child(ren)'s social worker, teachers and health workers will be invited. There may also be people you don't know, such as police. The conference is led by an independent Chairperson, who will meet with you before the conference to ensure that you understand the process of the meeting and for you to ask any questions. Another person will be there to take notes of the meeting, which will be sent to you, and professionals, following the conference together with the professionals' reports.

Do I have to attend?
You are advised to attend the conference, as it is about your child(ren); you are important and can share valuable information, your views and concerns. You are not obliged to attend, but the conference will take place in your absence and decisions will be made.

Will people listen to what I have to say?
You are important and your views will be heard by everyone at the meeting. If you cannot attend, you should speak to the social worker to ensure that your views are heard at the conference.

Can I bring someone to support me?
You can bring a friend, relative, advocate or solicitor with you to the conference. They will be able to support you, but not to give their opinion to the conference or be involved in making decisions about risk or planning.

What happens in the Conference?
All the professionals at conference will share information about their involvement with your family, including strengths as well as difficulties. When all the information has been shared, the professionals will be asked to provide their assessment of risk to your child(ren) and make recommendations about what needs to be in place to protect your child(ren) and help you do this.

What decisions can the conference make?
The conference decides if your child(ren) are at risk of significant harm and if your child(ren) require a Child Protection Plan.

What is the Child Protection Plan?
The Child Protection Plan is produced when a conference decides there is a need to have a plan to keep children safe from harm.
If a Protection Plan is made, regular meetings will be held - called 'core groups' - to consider the plan and how everyone is working on the plan.

How long will my child(ren) have a Child Protection Plan?
There will be a review conference three months after the initial conference, where the Protection Plan is looked at and decisions reached regarding whether or not the plan needs to continue. If it does continue, it will be reviewed again on a six-monthly basis.

Can the conference decide to take my child away from me?
No - this is something that many parents/carers worry about when a conference is called. The conference decides what protection plan is needed to keep your child(ren) safe and well and how everyone will work together to ensure this happens.
Only a court can order that children no longer live with their parents and this would only be in very harmful situations; most children who are subject of a Child Protection Plan stay at home with their parents/carers.

What if I do not agree with the conference's decision?
There is a complaints procedure that you will have access to at the conference and which allows for complaints about the process of the conference. However, such a complaint will not lead to a reversal of the decision to make your child(ren) subject of a Child Protection Plan.

How to Complain about a Child Protection Conference

Leaflet explaining the procedure for complaints about Child Protection Conferences

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Modified: 2009-03-31
Published: Fri, 17 Apr 2015 11:37:36
Author: Melanie Harper
Editor: _ Melanie.Harper
RDCMS ID: 15435