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Professional:

Guidance For Professionals Attending Child Protection Conferences


If you are invited to a Child Protection Conference, you may have questions about what happens and what is expected of you. This guidance aims to answer some of your questions, but if you want further information, please talk to your line manager, or to the designated child protection specialist in your agency, or to the Child Protection Conference Independent Chair (01545 572639)

What Is A Child Protection Conference?

The Child Protection Conference is a key part of the arrangements for inter-agency cooperation for the protection of children. The initial child protection conference is a meeting that is called after child protection inquiries have been made. The conference brings together family members, including the child when appropriate, and those professionals most involved with the child and family.

The Purpose Of The Child Protection Conference

The purpose of the conference is: -

  • To share and evaluate the information about the child’s health, development and functioning, and the parents’ or carers’ capacity to ensure the child’s safety and promote the child’s health and development.
  • To make judgements about whether the child or any other children in the family have suffered significant harm and if they are at risk of harm in the future.
  • To decide what future action is needed to safeguard the child and promote his/her welfare, how that action will be taken forward, and with what intended outcomes.

Who Should Attend?

Professionals and practitioners are invited who have a significant contribution to make because of their knowledge of either the child, or the family, or arising from their professional expertise

Family members will be invited. In Ceredigion a child who is above secondary school age is usually invited to attend.

There may be exceptional circumstances where professionals have concerns about violence or intimidation from a family member. This should be communicated in advance to the Conference Chair.

Initial And Review Child Protection Conferences

There are 2 types of Child Protection Conference: -

1. The Initial Child Protection Conference:

  • This is the first conference, which is usually arranged after child protection inquiries have been undertaken by the Social Worker and Police Officer. This conference should take place within 15 working days of the strategy meeting between the police and social services. This means that you will have very little notice of the meeting, but make every effort to attend.
  • You will receive an invitation in writing giving the family details, reasons for the conference and an attendance list.
  • The Initial Child Protection Conference decides whether or not to place the child’s name on Ceredigion Child Protection Register, and if it does, to agree a Child Protection Plan.

2. The Review Child Protection Conference:

  • All children whose names are on the Ceredigion Child Protection Register will be reviewed. The first review takes place within 3 months and the subsequent reviews within 6 months.
  • The tasks of this meeting are to review the Child Protection Plan to ensure that the child continues to be adequately safeguarded; to decide whether or not the child’s name should remain on the Ceredigion Child Protection Register; and, if so, to consider whether the plan should be changed.

Preparation For The Child Protection Conference

Give yourself some time to prepare for the conference and consider the information you hold about: -

  • Any significant events or incidents involving the child or family.
  • The health, development and needs of the child.
  • The capacity of the parents/carers to safeguard the child and promote their health and development.
  • Any wider family or community support that is important for the family.

Each agency representative attending the conference should provide, in advance, a written report and be prepared to read their report at the meeting. Whenever possible the report should be shared with the family before the day of the conference.

It is important that the conference is able to share all relevant information in order to understand the family circumstances and assess the level of risk to the child.

If you are unable to attend inform the Conference Chair; if appropriate, ask a senior colleague to deputise; and, send your written report to the Chair in advance. Your apologies and reported views will be recorded in the minutes.

If you don’t regularly attend child protection conferences you may feel unsure about what is expected of you. If so, discuss it with your manager or the Conference Chair as it is important that you feel able to take a full part. Your contribution is important.

Confidential Information

The success of inter-agency cooperation is rooted in the exchange and sharing of relevant information. In all cases where child abuse is alleged or suspected there is a duty to share all relevant information. If you are concerned about disclosing information your agency will provide guidance.

Appendix 3 in ‘Safeguarding Children: Working Together for Positive Outcomes’ 2004 provides helpful advice about information sharing.

All information shared at the conference shall be treated in the strictest confidence and not be disclosed outside the meeting for any purpose without authorisation from the Conference Chair.

Making A Decision About Placing A Child’s Name On The Child Protection Register?

When you attend a Child Protection Conference you will be asked your view about whether a child’s name should be placed on the Child Protection Register. You should consider the following question when determining whether to register a child:
Is the child at continuing risk of significant harm?

When you consider the information and make this decision the test should be either:

  • The child 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 professional judgement is that further ill treatment or impairment are likely; or
  • Professional judgement, substantiated by the findings of enquiries in this individual case or by research evidence, is that the child is likely to suffer ill treatment or impairment of health or development as a result of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect.

When a child’s name is placed on the Child Protection the act of registration itself confers no protection on the child unless a Child Protection Plan accompanies it. The Child Protection Plan recommends how agencies, professionals and the family should work in partnership to ensure the child will be safeguarded from harm in the future.

What Do I Do If I Think The Child Protection Conference Decision And Plan Have Not Adequately Safeguarded The Child?

If you do not consider that a child is adequately safeguarded by the Child Protection Conference decision and plan you should bring the matter to the immediate attention of your manager.

The protocol for the ‘Resolution of Professional Differences Relating to the Child Protection Process’ is in Appendix 7 of the All Wales Child Protection Procedures.

The Child Protection Conference Chair

The Child Protection Conference Chair is employed by the Ceredigion Social Services Department, but is independent of operational or line management responsibilities for the child or family. The Chair has experience and knowledge in child protection.

The Chair’s role is to ensure that the conference focuses on the needs of the child; that everyone is able to contribute fully to the discussion and decision-making; that everyone is treated fairly and with respect; and, that the conference decisions and plans safeguard the child.

The Initial Child Protection Conference Agenda

The Initial Child Protection Conference will follow this agenda:

  • Introduction of agency representatives to the family members.
  • Introduction by the Chair who will give the reasons for the conference and the way the meeting will be conducted.
  • The presenting concerns, including details of the child protection investigation and assessments.
  • Presentation and discussion of reports from agencies about significant events, background information, and the health and development of each individual child.
  • Responses and information from the family members, children attending and the views of children not attending.
  • A summary of the main issues by the Chair
  • Decisions about whether the child’s name is placed on the Ceredigion Child Protection Register by the professionals attending, which includes their analysis and views of whether the child is at continuing risk of significant harm
  • If registration is decided, the formulation of the Child Protection Action Plan, including the nomination of the Key Worker and Core Group. The recommendations on the plan should address how the risks can be managed.
  • If registration does not take place a discussion with the family about the provision of advice, support and services.

The Review Child Protection Conference Agenda

  • Introduction of agency representatives to the family members.
  • Introduction by the Chair who will give the reasons for the conference and the way the meeting will be conducted.
  • Key Worker report on the outcome of the Child Protection Plan.
  • Presentation and discussion of reports from agencies and the Core Group about significant events, background information, and the health and development of each individual child.
  • Responses and information from the family members, children attending and the views of children not attending.
  • A summary of the main issues by the Chair
  • Decisions about whether or not the child’s name is removed from the Ceredigion Child Protection Register by the professionals attending, which includes their analysis and views of whether the child is at continuing risk of significant harm
  • If it is decided that registration will continue the Child Protection Action Plan will be formulated, including the nomination of the Key Worker and Core Group. The recommendations on the plan should address how the risks can be managed.
  • If registration does not take place, a discussion takes place with the family about the provision of advice, support and services.

AS ‘WORKING TOGETHER TO SAFEGUARD CHILDREN’ STATES: “GOOD PRACTICE CALLS FOR EFFECTIVE COOPERATION BETWEEN DIFFERENT AGENCIES AND PROFESSIONALS; SENSITIVE WORK WITH PARENTS AND CARERS IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD; AND THE CAREFUL EXERCISE IN PROFESSIONAL JUDGEMENT BASED ON THOROUGH ASSESSMENT AND CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE AVAILABLE INFORMATION”

Some Terms Commonly Used In Child Protection Conferences

The Child Protection Register

The Child Protection Register is a confidential list of children whose names have been placed on the register at an Initial Child Protection Conference because there is concern that they are likely to suffer significant harm. It is held by the Child Protection Register Custodian in the Ceredigion Social Services Department, and by Dyfed Powys Police (for information out of office hours). Only professionals can have access to it when they have concerns about a child’s safety and welfare.

The Child Protection Plan

When a child’s name is placed on the Child Protection Register the act of registration itself confers no protection on a child, and should always be accompanied by a Child Protection Plan. The conference members have the responsibility to make recommendations on how agencies, professionals and the family should work together to ensure that the child will be safeguarded in the future. The conference members therefore need to draw up an outline plan, listing the actions needed by all the agencies and the family members, agreeing the tasks and timescales. The Core Group then works out the full detail of the plan.

The Core Group

The Core Group is identified at the conference and consists of professionals and practitioners working directly with the family.
The Core Group is responsible for developing and implementing the Child Protection Plan as a detailed, working tool within the outline plan agreed at the conference.

The Key Worker has the lead role, and all the members of the Core Group are jointly responsible for formulating and implementing the plan. If you are part of the Core Group it is vital you attend.

Additional Guidance And Information

Guidance on Child Protection Conferences is contained in “Working Together to Safeguard Children”(Welsh Government, 2004); the “All Wales Child Protection Procedures” (2008), which were adopted by Ceredigion Local Safeguarding Childrens Board.

Useful Contacts

Independent Conference Chair/ Child Protection Register Custodian
Tel. no: 01545 572639
Fax: 01545 574002
e-mail: Sian.Howys@ceredigion.gov.uk or Delyth.Jones2@ceredigion.gov.uk

Child Protection Administrator / CP Conference Minute Taker.
Tel no: 01545 572639
Fax: 01545 574002
e-mail: Gwenda.Jones@ceredigion.gov.uk