What is a Child Protection Conference?
A Child Protection Conference is essentially a meeting between parents, the Local Authority, and any services involved with the family and their children such as the school, health visiting service and the police.
How often are meetings held?
The first meeting is referred to as the Initial Child Protection Conference (ICPC) and this is then followed by Review Child Protection Conferences (RCPC). The first RCPC usually takes place within three months of the ICPC followed by an RPCP every six months thereafter. The purpose of the RCPC’s is to review the progress of the Child Protection Plan, a plan put in place involving the various agencies to safeguard the children, at the ICPC.
Why would a Child Protection Conference be held
Before a Child Protection Conference takes place, an investigation (called a Section 47 Investigation) will have been carried out to see whether the threshold is met for convening an ICPC. As part of this investigation, the Social Worker allocated to the family will be required to speak with the parent/children and services involved with the family.
Should the services believe that the children are at risk of significant harm as a result of the Section 47 Investigation then a decision may be made to convene an ICPC whereby all services meet with the Local Authority and the parents with a view to discussing what can be done to protect the safety and wellbeing of the children as a result of the concerns identified.
What happens before, during and after a child protection conference
The social worker prepares a report for the conference setting out the identified concerns; and, what is going well for the children. The report will include, wherever possible, the children’s views that are obtained by doing direct work with the children. The report should be made available to the parents in advance of the conference so that they can consider it and prepare for the conference. This is also the case for any other reports provided, such as a report from healthcare or the school.
Before the meeting starts the Chairperson will ensure that the parents have had time to consider the reports provided and will explain the format of the meeting. During the meeting all parties in attendance will introduce themselves and the Chairperson will confirm why the conference has been arranged and will lead in the discussions identifying why the ICPC has been convened and will discuss the issues raised that have led services to believing the children are at risk of harm. If possible, a clear plan of action going forward will be identified which addresses the risk with a view to reducing or diminishing that risk.
If it is unanimously agreed by the attendees that the children should become subject to a Child Protection Plan then a social worker will be allocated to be the lead practitioner for the child and a Core Group, made up of family members and services involved with the family will be identified to work closely with the family to achieve the outcomes set out in the Child Protection Plan. The first Core Group meeting should take place within 10 working days of the ICPC.