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Child protection conferences

Following section 47 enquiries, an initial child protection conference brings together family members (and the child where appropriate), with the supporters, advocates and practitioners most involved with the child and family, to make decisions about the child’s future safety, health and development.

The purpose is to bring together and analyse, in an inter-agency setting, all relevant information and plan how best to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child. It is the responsibility of the conference to make recommendations on how organisations and agencies work together to safeguard the child in future. Conference tasks include:

  • appointing a lead statutory body (either local authority children’s social care or NSPCC) and a lead social worker, who should be a qualified, experienced social worker and an employee of the lead statutory body
  • identifying membership of the core group of practitioners and family members who will develop and implement the child protection plan
  • establishing timescales for meetings of the core group, production of a child protection plan and for child protection review meetings
  • agreeing an outline child protection plan, with clear actions and timescales, including a clear sense of how much improvement is needed, by when, so that success can be judged clearly (Working Together 2018, pg. 49)

In May 2017 Portsmouth moved to a restorative approach to children protection conferences. A restorative child protection conference aims to bring together the people in the family affected by the harm that has been identified, together with the professionals who might assist them in making things better. It is important that the family are at the centre of the meeting, taking a leading role in the discussion and the planning.

Initial child protection conferences

A restorative approach means avoiding blame and judgements whilst having high expectations of what can be achieved and people’s contributions to making things better. This will mean understanding and appreciating the strengths in the system (in and around the family) whilst honestly and openly exploring the challenges – so as to support each other to deliver change.

The chair of the conference will need to facilitate the meeting carefully so as to manage the confrontation of harm, the emotional impact of this and the potential healing as a result of addressing it.

The chair will aim to consider:

  • What are the issues/ harm that the conference needs to address?
  • How the family feel about what people are saying?
  • What has been the impact on the children?
  • How they feel about this
  • What would better look like? What can they do about this?
  • What support the family need from the people round the table

Here is the agenda and a copy of the report template for initial child protection conferences.

This is the multi-agency template you should use for your report to initial child protection conferences and this is the template for the Social Worker’s report.

The PSCP has produced some guidance notes to help you with completing your report for an initial child protection conference.

There is no reading time at the conference; you will be expected to have read the reports before attending. So it is really important that you submit your report for initial child protection conferences to Service Quality Team (SQT) two working days before the initial child protection conference so that it can be circulated to all attendees at least one day beforehand.

When working with a family and/or child you should make them aware of how to make a comment, compliment or complaint to Children’s Social Care. Follow the link here for more information

It is the expectation that all children age over four years will participate in the meeting in some way ranging from attendance through Advocacy, through to submission of views through any chosen medium.

In Portsmouth we offer an application which offers children and young people an opportunity to share their views on line – This is called Mind of My Own. It is an expectation that all children who are subject to CP conference will have been offered this application by their social worker as part of their investigation and preparatory work for the conference.

The professionals identified by the family to support them making things better and make the child/ren safe will, together with the family, form the core group of people working on the child protection plan.  This group will also be responsible for producing a Core Group Progress Report.

This core group will meet every 6 weeks to talk about the plan – how it is working for the family and how well they are progressing with it and whether the child/ren is/are safer or safe. If you are not able to attend the core group meeting or child protection conference, you must ensure another member of your agency attends to represent you. This is particularly important at child protection conferences, as without a representative from your agency, the meeting may not be able to go ahead.

The progress made by the family will be reported back to the review child protection conference, making attendance and contribution to core group meetings even more important.

The progress made by the family will be reported back to the review child protection conference. The professional in the core group will be expected to work to the principle of restorative practice in providing high support and high challenge to each other for the benefit of the child/ren and family. The core group meeting will produce a report to update the child protection conference.

Any agency that has not been part of a core group meeting will need to update the Social Worker, preferably prior to the core group meeting to ensure any update to the plan is known so that this is incorporated into the conference report.

The only reports required for review child protection conferences are the core group report and the police will provide a report for the chair. Here is the agenda for review child protection conferences.