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Parent: Child Protection Conferences

Information For Parents And Carers

Your Social Worker will have told you that your child is to be discussed at a meeting called a Child Protection Conference. This information guide will: -

  • Tell you about the conference; what will happen; and, who will be there.
  • Inform you about your rights and responsibilities.
  • Explain what may happen next.

In Ceredigion we are committed to working in partnership with parents and carers. It is important that everyone involved with children works together to keep him or her safe from harm.

Above everything else the needs of children must come first.

We realise that it is a very difficult time for parents and we hope that this information will help you understand more about Child Protection Conferences. However if you want more information please ask the Social Worker.

What Is A Child Protection Conference?

  • A Child Protection Conference is a meeting arranged by Ceredigion Social Services Department after concerns have been raised about the care or safety of your child and child protection inquiries have been undertaken. Following these inquiries, which may have involved the Police, a decision to hold a conference is taken because it is considered your child may continue to be at risk of harm.
  • A Child Protection Conference is arranged in accordance with guidance from the Welsh Assembly Government.
  • Before a conference is called the Social Worker will send you a written invitation and explain the reasons to you.
  • The Social Worker will write a report for the conference. He/she will show you their report before the conference and discuss it with you.
  • If there are problems about who will look after your children while you are in the meeting the Social Worker will help you make arrangements

What Happens At The Child Protection Conference?

The conference brings together yourself and professional workers concerned with your child. They will share information arising from the child protection inquiry, and any other important information.

At the conference: -

  • The Conference Chairperson will see you before the meeting to explain what will happen. Please try to arrive at least 15 minutes early.
  • Everyone in the meeting will introduce himself or herself.
  • The professionals and practitioners will present their reports and share their information.
  • You will be invited to comment on the reports and share any information if you wish to do so.
  • The family’s views and needs will always be asked for and considered.
  • A decision will be made about whether your child’s name will be placed on Ceredigion’s Child Protection Register.
  • If your child’s name is placed on the register a Child Protection Plan will be made with you in order to reduce the risk of harm to your child.
  • If your child’s name is not placed on the register there will be a discussion with you to decide if your child and/or the family need any further assistance and support.
  • If your child’s name is placed on the Child Protection Register a date will be set for a Review Child Protection Conference in 3 months time.
  • The meeting is likely to last between 1 and 2 hours.

Who Will Be There?

An independent person who has considerable knowledge and experience about child protection but has not been involved in the inquiries will chair the conference. The Conference Chairperson will have no direct involvement with you apart from at the conference.

People will be invited who work with you and your family and can contribute useful information to the meeting. You will know at least some of the people at the meeting, such as the Health Visitor, School Nurse, Family Doctor, Teacher, Police Officer and Social Worker.

Other people are invited to conferences because they have experience in child protection and can give advice to the conference. This is likely to include a Child Protection Specialist Nurse and a Solicitor from Ceredigion County Council.

Can I Attend?

Parents and anyone else with parental responsibility for the child are encouraged to attend and take part in the meeting. Your views are important in helping to decide what to do.

You are welcome to bring a friend or relative as a supporter. Sometimes people want to bring their Solicitor, who is allowed to be present as a supporter.

If you cannot attend it is still important that your views are heard. You may want to tell your social worker or put your views in writing. The Conference Chairperson will read this out at the meeting. After the meeting the Social Worker will let you know what has happened and it will be confirmed in writing.

What Happens If English Is Not My First Language Or I Have A Speech Or Hearing Difficulty Or Other Special Needs?

If you want the meeting to be conducted in Welsh every effort will be made for this to happen. The minutes of the meeting should be translated for you.

The Social Worker will arrange for an interpreter, or other practical arrangements for your individual needs in order to help you to take part in the meeting.

Do Children Attend?

Usually young people over secondary school age are invited to attend and contribute to their conferences if they want to do so.

Young people who do not want to attend, and younger children, will be asked for their views, which will be shared at the meeting if the child wants this to happen.

Confidentiality.

Information shared at the conference is confidential and must not be shared outside the meeting unless it is for child protection or legal reasons. If you want to share information from the conference for these purposes you must get permission from the Conference Chairperson.

Someone coming with you as a supporter will hear personal and confidential information about you, so you need to be happy that they will keep the information confidential.

You will be sent a copy of the decisions of the conference and the plan within 10 working days. The minutes, which are a written record of the conference, will be sent later. Again, the minutes should not be given or shown to anyone else without permission of the Conference Chairperson.

What Happens As A Result Of The Conference?

If it is decided that the concerns about your child or children are not too serious and not likely to be in the future, then nothing will happen. There may be suggestions about assistance and support for your family. It is up to you if you want these or not.

If it is believed that your child has been harmed or is at risk of being harmed in the future, there will be a decision to put your child’s name on the Ceredigion Child Protection Register. If you disagree with the decision this will be recorded and you have a right to appeal against the decision.

What Is The Child Protection Register And How Does It Affect My Child And Me?

All Social Services Departments keep Child Protection Registers.

The Child Protection Register is a confidential list of names of children who are believed to have been harmed or abused or are likely to be harmed or abused in the future. When a child’s name is put on the Child Protection Register the Welsh Assembly Government have suggested that the risk will be described as either physical or sexual or emotional abuse or neglect.

The main purpose of the Child Protection Register is to develop a Child Protection Plan, which gives you and other professionals the opportunity to work in partnership to reduce the risk of any harm in the future and support your child and family.

A Social Worker will be named as a Key Worker. The Social Worker has the responsibility to work with you and your child and will visit you regularly to complete the planned work.

The Social Worker will organise a Core Group of people working closely with your child and you. They will meet to discuss the progress being made and contribute to an assessment.

Professionals and practitioners want to work with you because it is the best way to protect children and deal with problems.

Can My Child Be Taken Away From Me If My Child Is On The Register?

In the vast majority of cases NO. It is very unlikely a conference will recommend this. Only when there are very serious concerns about serious harm will the conference recommend that the Social Services apply to the court for an Order to remove a child. This is only done when there is no other safe alternative.

The aim of the conference is to reach agreement with you about what needs to be done to make sure your child is safe and cared for well enough within the family.

How Long Will My Child Stay On The Child Protection Register?

A Review Child Protection Conference will be held 3 months after your child’s names has been placed on the Child Protection Register, and at intervals of at least 6 months after the first review. A review will consider whether your child is still thought to be at risk of harm or whether the Child Protection Plan has reduced the risks and it is safe to remove your child’s name from the Child Protection Register.

What Can I Do If I Disagree With The Decision Of The Child Protection Conference?

If you do not agree with the decisions of the conference you have a right to appeal against them. The Conference Chairperson will give a copy of the Appeals Procedure to you at the conference. It is also available on this website or you may want to ask the Social Worker to give you a copy.

If you want to make a suggestion, comment or complaint about any part of a service you have received from any agency involved you should ask for the agency complaints procedure.

The Complaints Officer for Ceredigion Social Services Department can be contacted at:

Ceredigion Social Services Dept.,
Minaeron,
Rhiwgoch,
Aberaeron.
Tel. Number: 01545 574000
E-mail: complaints.dss@ceredigion.gov.uk

Remember:

  • If there is anything you do not understand about the child protection conference, please ask your social worker who will try to answer any queries.
  • Your views and opinions do matter. It is your child who will be discussed at the conference and you have a responsibility and right to be involved.
  • Everyone working together will best solve the problems that have led to this conference.

Where Can I Get Independent Advice And More Information?

  • A Solicitor who is a member of the Law Society’s Children’s Panel – see website at www.solicitors-online.com
  • The local Citizens Advice Bureau in Aberystwyth on 01970 612817 and Cardigan on 01239 613707.
  • Family Rights Group Advice Line on freephone 0800 731 1696 (open Monday to Friday, 1.30 – 3.30 pm.) or www.frg.org.uk