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3.6 Child Protection Conferences

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

Inter-Agency Collaboration

Child Protection Conferences bring together family members, the child (where appropriate), supporters/advocates and those professionals most involved with the child and family.

All agencies must make reasonable efforts to ensure that staff involved in child protection work are committed to and achieve:

  • Sharing of information;
  • Careful preparation for Conferences, including the provision of reports;
  • Attendance at Conferences;
  • Contribution to decision making;
  • Delivery of actions that are planned to safeguard the child(ren).

For partner agencies attending conferences, please see the Multi-Agency Child Protection Conference Report.

AMENDMENT

Section 10, Administrative Arrangements was amended in September 2017.


Contents

  1. Types of Child Protection Conferences
  2. Membership of Child Protection Conference
  3. Involving Parents/ Carers and Family Members
  4. Involving Children
  5. Exclusion of Family Members from a Conference
  6. Information for Conference
  7. Chairing of Conference
  8. Actions and Decisions of the Conference
  9. Professional Disagreement at / arising from Child Protection Conference
  10. Administrative Arrangements
  11. Recording Child is Subject of a Protection Plan
  12. Complaints by Service Users

    Appendix 1: Children with Child Protection Plans who attend Children's Centres


1. Types of Child Protection Conferences

Initial Child Protection Conference

Purpose of Initial Conference

The purpose of the initial Child Protection Conference is to:

  • Share and evaluate information in an inter-agency setting regarding the child's health, development and functioning and the parent / carer's capacity to ensure the child's safety and promote their well being within the context of their wider family and environment;
  • Make judgements and decisions about the likelihood of the child suffering significant harm in future;
  • Decide if the child should be the subject of a Child Protection Plan and if so the category of abuse or neglect the child has suffered;
  • Decide what future action is needed to safeguard the child and promote her/his welfare, how that action will be taken forward and with what intended outcomes and time-scales.

The conference must consider all the children in the household, even if concerns are only being expressed about one child.

Where a sibling group is already subject of a Child Protection Plan and it is established that the mother is pregnant, the unborn child must have a Strategy Discussion, S47 Enquiries and an Initial Child Protection Conference. The ICPC may be the Review Case Conference for the siblings. If a Strategy Discussion and S47 Enquiries have not been completed prior to the Child Protection Review Conference the unborn baby will not be made subject of a Child Protection Plan and a new ICPC will need to be arranged.

It is essential to evidence that a child or unborn baby meets the threshold for an ICPC and that evidence and decision making has been recorded on LCS. If the child or unborn baby does not have a Child Protection Plan, the Child Protection flag will not appear on the LCS record and the baby’s name will not be added to the Child Protection list that is sent to partner agencies. This will put the unborn baby at risk. 

Threshold for Convening an Initial Conference

Children's Services must convene an Initial Child Protection Conference when it is believed that a child has suffered or is likely in the future to suffer Significant Harm.

This decision will be the outcome of the assessment undertaken during the Section 47 Enquiry that concludes that the concerns were substantiated and the child is judged to be suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm. If the Service Manager decides that an Initial Child Protection Conference will be convened, they must set out in the case record of each child subject to the Section 47 enquiry the significant harm that each child is likely to suffer in the future and from whom.

Where the outcome of a Section 47 Enquiry leads to the decision  not to convene a Conference, the designated child protection professional of another agency may request a Conference be convened if (s)he has serious concerns that a child's welfare may not otherwise be adequately safeguarded. Any such request should normally be agreed, see Escalation of Concerns and Professional Disagreements About Decisions, Including Convening an ICPC Procedure at the Enquiry Stage.

Timing of Initial Child Protection Conference

The Initial Child Protection Conference should take place (offering those invited as much notice as is practicable) within 15 working days of the Strategy Discussion which made the decision to proceed with  the Section 47 Enquiry.

The Initial Conference should, when possible, be held before expiry of an Emergency Protection Order, unless further legal action is planned to safeguard the child.

Where a Child Assessment Order has been made the Conference should be held immediately on conclusion of examinations and assessments.

Any delay must have written authorisation from the Children's Services Service Manager and the Service Manager of Child Protection (including reasons for the delay) and Children's Services must ensure risks to the child are monitored and action taken to safeguard the child. All such actions must be recorded on file.

Review Child Protection Conference

Purpose of Review Child Protection Conference

The purpose of the Review Conference is to:

  • Review the safety, health and development of the child against the intended outcomes set out in the Child Protection Plan;
  • Ensure measures put into place to ensure the child is adequately protected from the risk of harm are effective and appropriate;
  • Bring together and analyse information about the child's health, development and functioning and the parent / carer's capacity to ensure the child's welfare and promote their welfare;
  • Make judgements about the likelihood of the child suffering significant harm in the future;
  • Decide if the child should continue to be the subject of a Child Protection Plan and if so, the category of abuse or neglect (s)he has suffered;
  • Decide what future action is needed to safeguard the child and promote her/his welfare, how that action will be taken forward and with what intended outcomes and time-scales;
  • Consider any required changes to the Child Protection Plan;
  • Determine any need for a new Assessment;
  • Ensure all agencies are actioning the Child Protection Plan to avoid drift.

The Conference must decide explicitly if the child is still likely to suffer significant harm and hence whether a Child Protection plan is required to continue. If so, the category of abuse or neglect the child has suffered must be reviewed and re-considered.

If the child is judged to no longer require a Child Protection Plan, the Conference should consider what support, such as a Child In Need Plan, may benefit the child and family and who is the responsible Lead Professional providing that support.

Where a child is transferring from a Child Protection status to a Child in Need status, a clear plan must be produced. Any decision to close the child's case to Children's Services within 12 weeks of that transfer should be shared at a multi agency Child in Need meeting.

Timing

The first Review Conference must be held within three months of the Initial Conference. Further Reviews must be held at intervals of not more than six months, for as long as the child remains subject to a Child Protection Plan.

Consideration should always be given to bringing the date of a Conference forward where:

  • Child protection concerns relating to a new incident or allegation of abuse have been substantiated;
  • There are significant difficulties in carrying out the Child Protection Plan including failure to engage or meet appointments;
  • A child is to be born into the household of a child who is the subject of a Child Protection Plan;
  • A person identified as presenting a risk, or potential risk, to children is to join or commences regular contact with the household;
  • There is a significant change in the circumstances of the child or family not anticipated at the previous Conference and with implications for the safety of the child;
  • A child subject to a Child Protection Plan is looked after by the local authority and consideration is being given to returning the child to the circumstances where care of the child initially required a protection plan (unless this step is anticipated in the existing protection plan);
  • The Core Group believe that consideration should be given to ending the Child Protection Plan.

Timing of Conference

The pre-birth Conference should take place as soon as it has been identified either by an Assessment or a Strategy Discussion/Meeting that the unborn child is likely to suffer significant harm.

This may be as early as 13 weeks of pregnancy, but should be no later than twenty four weeks of pregnancy to allow sufficient time for an assessment of parenting ability, planning support during the pregnancy and following the birth of the baby.

Where there is a known likelihood of a premature birth, the Conference should be held earlier.

Where the outcome of an assessment is to convene a Child Protection Conference, the meeting should be held within fifteen working days of the decision.

Timing of Review Conference

The timing of the first Review Conference should be decided at the Initial Conference but must be within three months.

Transfer Conference

If another local authority notifies Children's Services that a child subject to a Child Protection Plan has moved permanently to Hertfordshire, a Transfer Conference should be held within fifteen working days of the receipt of the notification.

Responsibility for the case rests with the original authority until the Conference has been held, but local staff should co-operate with the Lead Social Worker from the originating authority to implement the Child Protection Plan and record a 'temporary Child Protection Plan' on the child's social care record.

The Lead Social Worker from the originating authority must be invited to the Transfer Conference and asked to submit a report. The Transfer Conference is an Initial Conference. However, discontinuation of the Child Protection Plan from the previous local authority should only be agreed at this Conference following a full Assessment of the child and family in their new situation and then referred to the Service Manager for Child Protection. Such an assessment should be undertaken by Children's Services in conjunction with other agencies in Hertfordshire and from the originating authority.

If a Child Protection Plan is agreed at a Transfer Conference, a Review Conference should be held after three months.

Hertfordshire Social Workers and Team Managers, please also see Recording Transfer in and Strategy Meetings on LCS for Initial Child Protection Conference.


2. Membership of Child Protection Conference

A Conference should consist of the smallest number of people consistent with effective case management, but the following should normally be invited:

  • Parents / carers;
  • Child (if of sufficient age and understanding (See Section 4, Involving Children);
  • Children's Services Social / Lead Social Worker and Team Manager;
  • Those involved in any enquiries e.g. Police Joint Child Protection Investigation Team (JCPIT) officer;
  • Health services staff involved with child(ren) - e.g. health visitor, school nurse, GP;
  • Education services (e.g. schools, colleges of further education, attendance improvement officers, and school liaison officers).

Additional invitations to Conference should be limited to those who are, have been or will be involved with the child and/or parents / carers or have a specialist contribution to the task and may include:

  • Childcare Litigation Unit;
  • Foster carers (current or former) and their supervising social worker;
  • Probation service, YOT or Prison staff;
  • Health (including mental health) services involved with or able to provide relevant medical information regarding parent(s) / carers and / or child(ren) e.g. paediatricians, specialist doctors, ward staff, psychiatrists, community psychiatric nurses, social workers, specialist learning disability services, speech therapists etc.;
  • Midwifery, midwifery managers and relevant neonatal services where the conference concerns an unborn or new-born child;
  • Housing services;
  • Alcohol and substance abuse services;
  • Domestic Violence Officer (Hertfordshire Constabulary) or other domestic violence advisors;
  • A representative of the Armed Services (where appropriate);
  • Any professional or service provider currently or previously involved with the children or adults in the family, e.g. family centre, early years staff, Connexions;
  • Any other relevant professional or service provider (including involved voluntary organisations);
  • Supporter (including advocate), friend or solicitor (as supporters for the child and parent / carers;
  • Wider family members;
  • The Children's Guardian where there are current court proceedings (in the role of an observer, but entitled to a copy of the notes to use in court proceedings);
  • Child Protection Schools Liaison Officer.

Where a looked after child remains the subject of a Child Protection Plan, there should be a single planning and reviewing process, led by the IRO, leading to the development of a single plan.

There must be a discussion between the IRO and the CP Chair as to who is the most appropriate person to chair the CP meeting.

Consideration should be given to the IRO chairing the Child Protection Conference where a Child Looked After remains subject to a Child Protection Plan. Where that is not possible, the IRO must attend the Child Protection Review Conference.

Initial Conferences

All Initial Conferences must have representatives of Children's Services and the Police in attendance.

Community paediatricians will attend in the following circumstances:

  • The child has suffered a new physical injury; since the last conference there is a new medical report or results of a forensic medical examination that requires interpreting;
  • The parents are in dispute about medical findings;
  • The child has a medical disorder / disability;
  • There is concern about growth and / or development.

Review Conferences

Police will only attend if there are specific issues upon which their advice / expertise is required such as when there is an ongoing police investigation, domestic abuse or neglect.

Community paediatricians will attend in the circumstances described in the Initial Conference section.

When there are medical issues relating to parents / carers (e.g. physical / mental health issues, drug / alcohol abuse concerns) every effort should be made to secure the attendance of the relevant specialist practioners and / or health professional - whilst paediatricians can offer advice in such situations, it is not their specialist area of expertise.

A child or unborn baby, whose siblings have a Child Protection Plan, cannot have Child Protection Plan at the review conference for the siblings, unless the child or unborn baby has had a Strategy Discussion and S47 Enquiries. Then the Review Conference for the siblings, may also be the Initial Child Protection Conference for the unborn baby (or additional child).

Legal Attendance at Conferences

The Law Society provides professional guidance on attendance by lawyers at Child Protection Conferences. A solicitor must comply with the Law Society guidance: Attendance of solicitors at local authority Children Act meetings (2013).

The local authority legal advisor is both a legal advisor to the chair and to the local authority, although will not normally provide advice during a Conference. (S)he may not question parents directly and in exceptional circumstances may have to withdraw if there are any indications that admissions are to be made by parents.

The solicitor for parent or child may attend as a representative of child or supporter of parent to assist her/his clients to participate and, with the chair's permission, to speak on their behalf. See The Law Society website.

Attendance of Agency Representatives

Professionals who are invited but unable to attend for unavoidable reasons should:

  • Arrange wherever possible for another representative to attend on her / his behalf;
  • Inform the Child Protection Co-ordinator;
  • Submit a written report (see Social Work Report).

Requests for a professional observer to attend a Conference should be made to the Child Protection Co-ordinator a minimum of 3 working days before the Conference. The observer must not take part in discussions or decision-making.

Quorate Conferences

The primary principle for determining quoracy is that there should be sufficient agencies or key disciplines present to enable safe decisions to be made in the individual circumstances.

Normally, minimum representation is Children's Services social work team and at least two other agencies or key disciplines that have had direct contact with the child and family.

In exceptional cases, where a child has not had relevant contact with three agencies, this minimum quorum may be breached. The Chair should exercise discretion as to whether to proceed with a Conference which is inquorate, taking into account the available information and the need to safeguard the welfare of the child.

Where an inquorate Conference is held an early Review Conference, should be arranged, if the Child Protection Plan is continued.

If the decision of the inquorate Conference was to discontinue the Protection Plan, the chair should seek the views of other involved agencies and the invited members of the original Initial Conference first. This should be done in writing within ten working days, and written responses provided within a further ten working days.

In the event of disagreement see Professional Disagreement at / Arising from Child Protection Conferences at Section 9, Professional Disagreement.


3. Involving Parents/Carers and Family Members

Parents and carers must be invited to Conferences, unless exclusion is justified as described (See Section 5, Exclusion of Family Members from a Conference).

When the Team Manager determines that a case should proceed to a Child Protection Conference, the role of  National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) will be discussed with child and family as soon as this decision has been made. Older children and young people may wish to attend the Conference, supported by a NYAS representative, or younger children may wish NYAS to attend on their behalf or provide reports. The parent and child’s consent to the referral should be recorded clearly on the child’s LCS case notes at the same time as they are told of the decision to take the matter to an Initial Child Protection Conference.

NYAS advocates should continue to support children and young people through their time on a CP Plan, and provide feedback both about the CP Conference and the SW Team’s intervention.

If consent has initially been refused, this service should be offered again, at least at each review point. This is especially important if the case escalates to Public Law Outline (PLO).

Information Provision & Planning

The social worker must facilitate their constructive involvement by ensuring in advance of the Conference that they are given sufficient information and practical support to make a meaningful contribution.

The social worker must explain to parents / carers the purpose of the meeting, who will attend, the way it will operate, purpose and meaning of implementing a Child Protection Plan and the complaints process.

Preparation should include consideration of childcare arrangements to enable the attendance of parent(s).

Written information should be left with the family regarding Conferences, the right to bring a friend, supporter (including an advocate) or solicitor (in role of supporter), details of any local advice and advocacy services and the conference complaints procedure.

The role of the supporter is to enable the parent / carer to put her/his point of view, not to take an adversarial position or cross-examine participants. The family need to be aware that any supporter will hear personal information about the child(ren), parents and partners.

Use of Interpreters

Those for whom English is not a first language must be offered and provided with an interpreter, if required. See Interpreters, Signers and Others with Special Communication Skills Procedure

Provision should be made to ensure that visually or hearing impaired or otherwise disabled parents / carers are enabled to participate. A family member should not be expected to act as an interpreter of spoken or signed language.

Parent / Carer Provision of Information to the Conference

Parents / carers should be helped in advance to consider what they wish to convey, within the time available, how they wish to do this and what help and support is required e.g. communicating in writing or by tape to provide a summary of their perception of concerns and of their strengths to meet their child's needs.

If parents / carers are unable or do not wish to attend the conference they should be provided with full opportunities to contribute their views and the social worker will facilitate this by:

  • Providing alternative means to communicate with the chair;
  • Exploring the use of an advocate or supporter to attend on behalf of the parent / carer;
  • Enabling the parent / carer to write or tape her/his views;
  • Agreeing that the social worker, or any other professional, expresses her/his views.

Prior Meeting with Chair

Immediately before the Conference, the chair should meet with family members to ensure they understand the process. If there is potential for conflict, separate meetings with different parties may be needed.

Potential of Conflict between Family Members

Explicit consideration should be given to the potential of conflict between family members and possible need for children or adults to speak without other family members present. See Section 5, Exclusion of Family Members from a Conference.


4. Involving Children

The child, subject to her/his level of understanding, needs to be given the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the Conference. In practice, the appropriateness of including an individual child must be assessed in advance and relevant arrangements made to facilitate attendance at all or part of the conference. The child may attend with the support of a NYAS advocate, or the advocate may attend on behalf of the child.

See:

If, in accordance with the criteria below, it is assessed that it would be inappropriate for the child to attend, alternative arrangements should be made to ensure her/his wishes and feelings are made clear to all relevant parties - e.g. use of advocate, written or taped comments.

Criteria for Presence of Child at Conference

The primary questions to be addressed are:

  • Does the child have sufficient understanding of the process?
  • Has (s)he expressed an explicit or implicit wish to be involved?
  • Parents' views about the child's proposed presence
  • Is inclusion assessed to be of benefit to the child?

The test of 'sufficient understanding', is partly a function of age and partly of capacity to understand. Generally, a child of less than twelve years is unlikely to be able to be a direct and/or full participant in a Conference. An older child is potentially able to contribute. However, each child should be considered individually and consideration taken of her/his maturity, intellectual and cognitive development.

To establish her/his wish with respect to attendance, the child must be first provided with a full and clear explanation of its purpose, conduct and membership and potential provision of an advocate or support person.

Written information translated into the appropriate language should be provided to those able to read and an alternative medium e.g. tape, offered those who cannot read.

A declared wish not to attend a conference (having been given such an explanation) must be respected.

Consideration should be given to the:

  • Views of and impact on parent(s) of the child's proposed attendance;
  • Impact of the Conference on the child e.g. if (s)he has a significant learning disability or if it will be impossible to ensure (s)he is kept apart from a parent who may be hostile and/or attribute responsibility to the child;
  • The role of NYAS will be discussed with the child and family as soon as a decision has been made that an Initial Child Protection Conference will be held. If the child gives consent to a referral to NYAS the advocate may attend with the child.

Indirect Contributions when a Child is not Attending

When a child is not attending, the social worker must ensure her/his wishes and feelings are effectively represented. Means to achieve this might include agreeing one or more of the following:

  • A pre-meeting with the Conference Chair;
  • Representation via an advocate or supporter. The role of NYAS will be discussed with the child and family as soon as a decision has been made that an Initial Child Protection Conference will be held. If the child gives consent to a referral to NYAS the advocate may attend on the child’s behalf, or provide reports;
  • Written statements, e-mails, text messages, taped comments and/or drawings prepared alone, with the social worker or with independent support;
  • A social worker / any other professional, express her/his views.

Direct Involvement of a Child in a Conference

In advance of the Conference, the Chair and social worker should agree whether:

  • The child attends for all or part of the Conference, taking into account confidentiality of parents and/or siblings;
  • (S)he should be present with one or more of her/his parents;
  • The Chair meets the child alone or with a parent / carer prior to the meeting.

If the child attends all or part of the conference, it is essential that (s)he is prepared by the social worker or independent advocate, who can help her/him prepare a report / tape recording or rehearse any particular points that the child wishes to make.

Those for whom English is not a first language should be offered and provided with an interpreter (See Interpreters, Signers and Others with Special Communication Skills Procedure).

Provision should be made to facilitate a child who has any form of disability to participate.

Consideration should be given to enabling the child to be accompanied by a supporter or an advocate.


5. Exclusion of Family Members from a Conference

Exceptionally it may be necessary to exclude one or more family members from part or all of a Conference.

These situations will be rare, and the Conference Chair, must be notified as soon as possible by the social worker or other professional, if it is considered necessary to exclude one or both parents for all or part of a conference.

The Chair should make a decision according to the following criteria:

  • Indications that the presence of the family member may seriously prejudice the welfare of the child;
  • Sufficient evidence that a parent / carer may behave in such a way as to interfere seriously with the work of the Conference such as violence, threats of violence, racist, or other forms of discriminatory or oppressive behaviour or being in an unfit state e.g. through drug, alcohol consumption or acute mental health difficulty (but in their absence a friend or advocate may represent them at the Conference);
  • A child requests that the parent / person with parental responsibility or carer are not present while (s)he is present;
  • The presence of parents would prevent a participant from making her/his proper contribution;
  • The need (agreed in advance with the Conference Chair) for members to receive confidential information that would otherwise be unavailable, such as legal advice or information about a criminal investigation;
  • The need (agreed in advance with the Conference Chair) for members to receive information which cannot be shared with one or more parents / carers as this could put at risk family members or professionals;
  • Potential conflicts between different family members may suggest they attend at separate times e.g. particularly  in situations where there is  domestic violence.

If a worker from any agency believes a parent should, on the basis of the above criteria, be excluded, representation must be made, if possible at least three days in advance, to the Conference Chair.

The agency concerned must indicate which of the grounds it believes is met and the evidential basis of its request. The Chair must consider the representation carefully and may need legal advice.

If, in planning it, it becomes clear to the Chair there may be conflict of interests between child(ren) and parents, the Conference should be planned so that the welfare of the child(ren) remain paramount.

This may mean arranging for child and parents to participate in separate parts of the Conference and organising separate waiting arrangements. Any exclusion period should be for the minimum duration necessary and must be clearly recorded in Conference notes.

It may also become clear at the beginning or in the course of a Conference, that its effectiveness will be seriously impaired by the presence of the parent(s). In these circumstances, the Chair may ask them to leave.

Where a parent is on bail, or subject to an active Police investigation, it is the responsibility of the Chair to ensure the Police can fully present their information and views and also that the parents participate as fully as circumstances allow. This may involve the Chair and Police having a confidential meeting prior to the conference.

The decision of the Chair over matters of exclusion is final regarding both parents and the child(ren).

If the Chair has decided, prior to the Conference, to exclude a parent, this must be communicated in writing to the parent who must be informed about how to make their views known, how (s)he will be told the outcome of the Conference and about the Conference complaints procedure (see Section 12, Complaints by Service Users).

If a decision to exclude a parent is made, this must be fully recorded in the notes. Exclusion at one Conference is not reason enough in itself for exclusion at further conferences.

Those excluded should be provided with a copy of the social workers report to the Conference and be provided with the opportunity to have their views recorded and presented to the Conference.

Where a parent / carer attends only part of a Conference as a result of exclusion, (s)he should receive the record of the decisions made at the Conference.

The chair has the authority to decide if:

  • If the entire record may be provided; or
  • (Usually) only that part attended by the excluded parent / carer.

A decision to withhold part of the record is justifiable on the basis of:

  • Health and safety, where to provide the entire record might increase the risk to the child or relevant others, such as cases of domestic violence; or
  • Sensitive third party information the sharing of which is unjustified e.g. health related information;
  • A current criminal investigation, the effectiveness of which might otherwise be undermined; or
  • Other legal considerations (usually on basis of legal advice).

The relevant procedural responses to professional or service user dissatisfaction about the above decisions are provided at Section 9, Professional Disagreement and Section 12, Complaints by Service Users.


6. Information for Conference

Social Work Report

The social worker should provide to the Conference a legible, signed and dated written report, using the LCS exemplar for Initial and Review Child Protection Conference Reports. The Report must contain a chronology of significant events and agency and professional contact with the child and family. A genogram should be made available to the Initial Child Protection Case Conference and subsequent conferences.

A separate report must be prepared for each child who is a subject of the Conference (as previously determined by the social worker and her/his manager).

Even if not the subject of the Conference, all children in the household need to be considered at both Initial and Review Conferences and information provided on each of them.

The report should be provided to parents and older children (to the extent that it is believed to be in their interests) at least two days before Initial Conferences and five days before Review Conferences to enable any factual inaccuracies to be identified, amended and areas of disagreement noted.

When necessary, a report should be translated into the relevant language or medium.

A report should be provided to the Chair at least one working day before an Initial, and three working days before a Review Conference, having been previously shared with the parent(s).

Information from other Agencies

It is the responsibility of all the agencies who have participated in the enquiry or who have relevant information to make this available to the Conference in the form of a written, legible and signed report.

All agencies should have a pro forma for reports. See also Multi-Agency Child Protection Conference Report.

Reports must make it clear which child(ren) are the subject of the Conference, but address any known circumstances of all children in the household.

Reports should not contain information which would be more appropriately provided in the absence of one or more family members (see exclusion of family members from conference bullet points 5 and 6).

The report should be provided to parents and older children (to the extent it is believed to be in their interests) at least forty eight hours in advance of Initial and five working days before Review Conferences so that any factual inaccuracies are identified, amended and areas of disagreement noted.

When necessary, a report should be translated into the relevant language or medium.

The report should be provided to the Chair at least one working day before an Initial, and three working days in advance of a Review Conference.

If any agency representatives are unable to attend the Conference (s)he must ensure a written report is made available through the Chair and, if possible, that a colleague attend in her/his place.


7. Chairing of Conference

The Chair of a Child Protection Conference:

  • Should be a professional with sufficient status to ensure inter-agency commitment to the Conference and Child Protection Plan;
  • Should be independent of operational or line management responsibilities for the case;
  • Is accountable to the Director of Children’s Services.

Wherever possible the Chair of the Initial Conference should also chair any subsequent Review Conferences.

The Chair must meet with child and family members (and interpreters if required) prior to the Conference to ensure they understand the purpose of the Conference and how it will be conducted.

At the start of the Conference the Chair should:

  • Set out the purpose of the Conference;
  • Confirm the agenda;
  • Emphasise the need for confidentiality;
  • Address diversity issues e.g. specifying that racist, sexist, homophobic and threatening behaviour will not be tolerated;
  • Clarify contributions of those present, including family supporters.

During the Conference the Chair should ensure that:

  • The Conference maintains a focus on the welfare of the child(ren);
  • Consideration is given to all the children in the household;
  • All those present (including if relevant parents and child(ren)) make a full contribution and that full consideration is given to the information they offer;
  • Reports of those not present are made known to parties;
  • The wishes and feelings of the child(ren) are clearly outlined;
  • Issues of race, religion, language, class, gender, sexuality and disability are fully taken into account;
  • Appropriate arrangements are made to receive 3rd party confidential information;
  • Decisions are reached in an informed and systematic way;
  • All concerned are advised / reminded of the complaints procedure;
  • Arrangements are made with the social worker for absent parents or carers to be informed verbally (wherever possible) of the decisions of conferences, in addition to written notification.

If the child(ren) is/are not the Subject of a Child Protection Plan

When at an Initial Child Protection Conference (including an initial child protection conference that is a “transfer-in” Conference) the child(ren) is/are not made the subject of a Child Protection Plan or when at a review child protection conference the Child Protection Plan(s) is/are ceased, the Chair must ensure that the Conference makes any appropriate recommendations to promote each child's welfare, health or development.

These recommendations should describe the needs of the child that the local authority has a responsibility to meet and whether, and if so why, the provision of an allocated social worker is appropriate. The Conference will recommend an outline Child in Need Plan.

The child’s case should then remain allocated as a “child in need” for a minimum period of three months from the date of the conference, and subject to consultation with the family, it may be appropriate for the Service Manager to:

  • Continue the Assessment (if not already completed) of the child's needs to help determine the support required;
  • Arrange the allocation of a social worker or other lead professional;
  • Establish commitment to inter-agency working, particularly where the child's needs are complex (this should involve a regularly reviewed child's plan);
  • Decide to provide (or to cease to provide) ongoing support using either the LCS Child in Need Plan or Targeted Youth Support Service Care Plan or e-CAF, using multi-agency meetings (and/or Family Group Conferences) or other suitable service provision (including referral to other organisations), as the vehicle to make and review plans.

If the child(ren) is/are made the subject of a Child Protection Plan

The conference chair should ensure that:

  • A record is made of the conference, including its decisions and any recommendations and placed on the child’s/children's LCS record;
  • The conference record describes the nature of the significant harm that each individual child is likely to suffer in the future and from whom;
  • The Child Protection Plan is outlined and clearly understood by all concerned including the parents and where appropriate the child;
  • A Lead Social Worker from Children's Services is identified to develop, co-ordinate and implement the Child Protection Plan. If this is not possible, the relevant Team Manager must be the point of contact;
  • A Core Group is identified of family members and professionals;
  • A date is set for the 1st Core Group meeting within ten working days of the Initial Conference and timescales set for subsequent meetings;
  • A date for the Child Protection Review Conference is set;
  • Where later decisions vary conference outcomes, a clear reason for this in relation to each child is recorded in the conference record.

If parents / carers disagree with the decision of the Conference, the Chair must further discuss their concerns and explain the complaints process (see Section 12, Complaints by Service Users).

The Safeguarding Unit will enter the decisions of the Conference on the database.


8. Actions and Decisions of the Conference

Threshold for a Child Protection Plan

The Conference should consider the following question when determining whether the child needs to be the subject of a Child Protection Plan:

  • Has the child suffered significant harm which is attributable to the care given to the child?

    and
  • Is the child likely to suffer significant harm in the future which is attributable to the care likely to be given to the child?

The test for likelihood of suffering harm in the future should be that 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 is likely; or
  • A 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 the impairment of health and development as a result of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect.

If the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm, (s)he will require inter-agency help and intervention delivered through a formal Child Protection Plan. The primary purposes of this plan are to prevent the child suffering harm or a recurrence of harm in the future and to promote the child's welfare.

This threshold must be considered at both Initial and Review Conferences, for each subject child.

Agreeing to a Child Protection Plan

The Chair of a Conference is responsible for the Conference decision. (S)he will consult Conference members, take account of any written contributions received and aim for a consensus as to the need for a Child Protection Plan, but ultimately will make the decision and note any dissenting views. Any dissent by professionals must be recorded in the conference notes.

The decision making process will normally take place with parents / carers present. (The Social Worker will need to explain the plan to the child in a way which they can understand).

The need for a Child Protection Plan should be considered separately in respect of each child.

Unborn Baby

If a pre-birth Conference determines an unborn child is in need of a Child Protection Plan, her/his surname and expected date of birth should be entered onto the social care record at once and name and d.o.b. confirmed and entered onto all agencies' records at birth.

Category of Abuse or Neglect

If the decision is that the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm in the future and is in need of a Child Protection Plan, the Chair should determine at the Initial Conference and at each Review Conference which single category of abuse or neglect the child has suffered or is likely to suffer.  The chair should not change the category of abuse or neglect unless there are sufficient grounds to do so.  The category used (physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect) must indicate to those consulting the child's social care record the primary presenting concerns (reflecting all information obtained during assessments and analysis) at the time of the most recent conference.  Multiple categories must not be used.

Working Together describes the forms of abuse as follows:

Physical abuse

A form of abuse which may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.

Emotional abuse

The persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond a child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyber bullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.

Sexual abuse

Involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.

Neglect

The persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:

  • Provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment);
  • Protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
  • Ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or
  • Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.

It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.

(“Working Together to Safeguard Children: A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children”, pages 85 and 86,March 2013).

Unborn Baby

If a decision is made an unborn baby will be subject to a Protection Plan, the main cause for concern must determine the category and the plan outlined to commence prior to birth (see Pre birth Assessment and Guidance).

The Core Group must be established and meet if at all possible prior to the birth, and certainly prior to the baby's return home after a hospital birth. This should not delay the baby's discharge from hospital but must include a Discharge Home plan.

'Outline' Child Protection Plan

When it has been agreed that the child should be subject to a Child Protection Plan, the Chair should ensure that the outline Child Protection Plan drawn up by Conference members enables both professionals and the family to understand exactly what is expected of them and what they can expect of others. This should include:

  • A Risk statement, identifying factors associated with the likelihood of the child suffering significant harm and ways in which the child can be protected from harm through an inter-agency plan based on the current findings from the assessment, including information held by agencies on any previous involvement with the child and  family;
  • Outline what needs to be done, by establishing short-term and longer-term aims and objectives that are clearly linked to preventing the child suffering harm or a recurrence of the harm suffered, meeting the child’s developmental needs and promoting the child’s welfare, including contact with family members;
  • Be clear about who will have responsibility for what actions – including actions by family members – within what specified timescales;
  • Outline ways of monitoring and evaluating progress against the planned outcomes set out in the plan; and Be clear about which professional is responsible for checking that the required changes have taken place and what action will be taken, by whom, and when if they have not;
  • Identify an appropriate Contingency plan;
  • Identification of Core Group membership and timescales for their meetings and the production of the Protection Plan (see Implementing the Child Protection Plan, Core Group and Lead Social Worker Procedure, Core Group);
  • There should be an individual plan outlined for each child subject to a Child Protection Plan (see Implementing the Child Protection Plan, Core Group and Lead Social Worker Procedure);
  • The outline Plan should include an indication of what the Conference believes needs to change before the Child Protection Plan can be discontinued.

Discontinuing the Child Protection Plan

The same decision making procedure (described above) for agreeing the use of a Child Protection Plan, is used to discontinue the use of a Child Protection Plan for a specified child.

A child's name should no longer be the subject of a Child Protection Plan if:

  • A Review Conference judges that the child is no longer suffering or likely to suffer significant harm and no longer requires safeguarding by means of a Child Protection Plan;
  • The child has moved permanently to another local authority area and the new area has convened a Child Protection Conference and decided whether or not to make the child subject to a child protection plan (see Children Moving Across Local Authority Boundaries Procedure);
  • The child has reached eighteen years of age, has died or has permanently left the UK.

The Service Manager for Child Protection may discontinue a Child Protection Plan, without the need to convene a Child Protection Conference, but only when one of the latter two criteria set out above are satisfied.

When a child looked after or subject to a Residence Order, Child Arrangement Order or Special Guardianship Order is no longer living in the situation which gave rise to the decision to make her/him subject of a Child Protection Plan and there is no current plan for her/him to be returned, her/his Child Protection Plan may be discontinued either:

  1. By means of a Review Child Protection Conference decision; or
  2. Following written consultation by the social work team with the Conference chair and all of the participants, who were invited to the initial child protection conference and the most recent child protection conference. Only in the event that none of these express any concern or objection, the Service Manager for Child Protection and the Service Manager Independent Review Team may then together agree to discontinue a Child Protection Plan without the need to convene a Child Protection Conference. The Service Manager for Child Protection will record the decision on the child’s case record, notify the decision to those consulted and amend the LCS child protection plan status.

In these circumstances the Care plan for the looked after child must address any remaining risks or concerns and should include any elements of the Child Protection Plan that remain valid.

Should the care plan for a looked after child subsequently include returning the child looked after to the situation that previously resulted in a decision to make her/him subject of a Child  Protection plan, or in the event that the looked after child will cease or has ceased to be accommodated elsewhere, the operational Service Manager with responsibility for the case must consider and record in the child’s LCS case record whether it is appropriate to convene an Initial Child Protection Conference. This ICPC would consider whether the child should be made subject to a multi-agency Child protection plan.  Any initial Child Protection Conference must be convened within 15 working days

See Children Looked After Procedure, Discontinuation of Child Protection Plan, for procedures with regard to discontinuing the Child Protection Plan for Children looked after.

If the Child is not the Subject of a Child Protection Plan

If it is considered that the circumstances do not meet the threshold for a Child Protection Plan to be made or if a Child Protection Plan is to be discontinued, but the child is judged to be in need of help to promote her/his health or development, the Conference must ensure that recommendations are made to this effect.

The ICPC will then consider whether to recommend a Child in Need plan or not. If it does recommend that the child should be subject of a Child in Need Plan, an outline Child in Need plan will be drafted at the ICPC with a recommendation that the case is not closed for three months, and following written consultation with all the relevant professionals.

Any ongoing support should be provided using either the LCS Child in Need Plan or Targeted Youth Support Service Care Plan or e-CAF, using multi-agency meetings (and/or Family Group Conferences) as the vehicle to make and review plans.

Subject to the family's views and consent, it may be appropriate to:

  • Continue the Assessment (if not already completed) of the child's needs to help determine the support required;
  • Make recommendations about support and help, allocation of a social worker or other lead professional;
  • Establish commitment to inter-agency working, particularly where the child's needs are complex (this should involve a regularly reviewed child's plan).


9. Professional Disagreement at/ arising from Child Protection Conference

The Chair of a Conference is responsible for the Conference decision. (S)he should consult Conference members and aim for a consensus, but ultimately make the decision and note any dissenting views.

Research and fatal case reviews have shown that differences of opinion between all agencies can lead to conflict and result in a less favourable outcome for the child. When dissent occurs, the social worker must therefore involve that agency in future decision-making and any Child Protection or Child in Need Plan.

An individual who dissents from the Chair's decision must determine whether (s)he wishes to further challenge the result. Additionally, where a professional in any agency has concerns about the response of another agency, it is expected that the individual professional will take responsibility for raising those concerns through their line management and across to other agencies promptly.

The following procedure may also be employed if a participating professional has serious concerns about the process followed by the Conference and feels unable to resolve these on a face to face basis with those concerned.

In the unlikely event that the dissenting professional believes the decision reached by the chair places a child at an increased likelihood of suffering significant harm, (s)he should formally raise the matter with her/his manager or agency's Designated Doctor /Nurse/ Teacher.

If that Designated Doctor/ Teacher /Nurse concurs with the concerns of the professional, (s)he should immediately alert the Service Manager for Protection in the local authority.

In the light of the representations made, the Service Manager for Child Protection in consultation with the Head of Child Protection and Statutory Review Service must determine whether to:

  • Uphold the decision reached by the Conference Chair; or
  • Require that a Review Conference be brought forward.

In the unlikely event the outcome of these alternate steps fail to satisfy the concerned professional, the issue should be put as a matter of urgency to the HSCB chair who can determine what further responses (if any) are a justifiable and proportionate response.


10. Administrative Arrangements

Those attending should be notified of Conferences as far as possible in advance, and the Conference held at a time and place likely to be convenient to as many people as possible. Some Child Protection Conferences will have a dedicated person to take notes and produce minutes of the meetings.

Minutes will be taken for the following Child Protection Conferences:

  1. Any “initial” child protection conference (which will include any “transfer” conference and any conference which considers a new member of a household in which there are children with a child protection plan);
  2. Any first “review” child protection conference;
  3. Any conference which considers an unborn child;
  4. Any conference that will consider a new child protection enquiry (Section 47) on a child already subject to a child protection plan;
  5. Any conference that considers a child who is looked after by any local authority;
  6. Any conference where there is agreement from the Team Manager that a Legal Planning Meeting will be taking place, in cases where Public Law Outline has been invoked or where an application has been made in care proceedings but the case is yet to be concluded;
  7. Any conference that has been re-convened following a complaint within the HSCB Complaints Procedure;
  8. Any other conference at which the Head of Child Protection and Statutory Review (Service Manager for Child Protection or Service Manager for Independent Review Service in the absence of the Head of Service) considers that it is necessary to provide minutes to protect the interests of the child or one or more partner agencies of the LSCB or their staff;
  9. Any conference in the above categories which has been adjourned and re-convened.

Together with the written reports provided to the conference, the minutes will form the record of the conference.

For all other Child Protection Conferences the chair will in future record the decisions and recommendations of the conference, together with a paragraph setting out their “Summary” of the conference and another recording their “Conclusions”. Together with the reports to conference provided by the participants, this will be the record of the conference and it therefore becomes much more important for agencies invited to submit a written report. The length and content of the summary and conclusions will be determined by the conference chair.

Reports to conference can be received at a secure e-mail address, from where they can be transferred to form part of the record of the conference which will form part of the child’s electronic social care case record.

Minutes, or the Chair’s summary record of the discussion and conclusions, decisions and recommendations of the Child Protection Conference are a crucial working document for all relevant professionals and the family and should include:

  • The essential facts of the case;
  • A summary of discussion at the Conference, which accurately reflects all contributions;
  • All decisions reached, with information outlining the reasons;
  • A translation of decisions into an outline Child Protection Plan enabling everyone to be clear about their tasks.

The decision of the Conference and where appropriate details of the category of abuse or neglect, the name of the Lead Social Worker and the Core Group membership should be circulated to those invited to the Conference within 1 working day.

A copy of the minutes of the Conference should be sent within ten working days of the Conference to all those who attended or were invited to attend, including family members (except for any part of the Conference from which they were excluded).

If parents and / or the child(ren) have a sensory disability or if English is not their first language, steps must be taken to ensure that they can understand and make full use of the Conference record.

When a friend, supporter or solicitor has been involved, the Chair should clarify with the parent whether the record should be provided for those individuals.

If a child has attended a Child Protection Conference, the social worker must arrange to see her/him and arrange to discuss relevant sections of the Conference record. Consideration should be given to whether a child should be given copies of the record. They may be supplied on request, to her/his legal representative.

The record is confidential and should not be passed by professionals to third parties without the consent of the Conference Chair or order of the court.

In criminal proceedings the police may reveal the existence of child protection records to the Crown Prosecution Service (in accordance with the Criminal Procedure and Investigation Act 1996) and in care proceedings the record of the Conference may be revealed in court.

Every agency must establish arrangements for the storage of Child Protection Conference records and associated records in accordance with their own confidentiality and record retention policies.


11. Recording Child is Subject of a Protection Plan

The Record

Children's Services IT systems records in the child's case record when the child is the subject of a Child Protection Plan.

Each local authority's IT system which is supporting the Liquidlogic Children’s System (LCS) is capable of producing a list of all the children resident in the area (including those who have been placed there by another local authority or agency) who are considered to be likely to suffer significant harm, and for whom there is a Child Protection Plan.

The principal purpose of having the IT capacity to record that a child is the subject of a Child Protection Plan is to enable agencies and professionals to be aware of those children who are judged to be likely to suffer significant harm and who are the subject of a Child Protection Plan. It is equally important that agencies and professionals can obtain relevant information about other children who are known or have been known to the local authority. Consequently, agencies and professionals who have concerns about a child should be able to obtain information about a child that is recorded on the local authority's IT system; see Department for Education website.

It is essential that legitimate enquirers such as Police and health professionals are able to obtain this information both in and outside office hours.

Children should be recorded as having been abused or neglected under one or more of the categories of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or neglect, according to a decision by the Chair of the Child Protection Conference. These categories help indicate the nature of the current concerns.

Recording information in this way also allows for the collation and analysis of information locally and nationally and for its use in planning the provision of services. The categories selected should reflect all the information obtained in the course of the Assessment under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989 and subsequent analysis and should not just relate to one or more abusive incidents.

Managing and Providing Information about a Child

Hertfordshire's Head of Child Protection (who is accountable to the Director of Children's Services) has responsibility for:

  • Ensuring that records on children who have a Child Protection Plan are kept up to date;
  • Ensuring enquiries about children about whom there are concerns or who have Child Protection Plans are recorded;
  • Managing other notifications of movements of children into or out of the local authority area such as children who have a Child Protection Plan;
  • Managing notifications of people who may pose a risk of significant harm to children who are either identified with the local authority area or have moved into the local authority area; and
  • Managing requests for checks to be made to ensure unsuitable people are prevented from working with children.

Information on each child known to Children's Services should be kept up-to-date on the local authority LCS IT system, and the content of the child's record should be confidential, available only to legitimate enquirers. This information should be accessible at all times to such enquirers.

The details of enquirers should always be checked and recorded on the system before information is provided.

If an enquiry is made about a child and the child's case is open to Children's Services the enquirer should be given the name of the child's key worker and the Lead Social Worker informed of this enquiry so that they can follow it up.

If an enquiry is made about a child at the same address as a child subject of a Child Protection Plan, this information should be sent to the latter child's Lead Social Worker. If an enquiry is made but the child is not known to Children’s Services, this enquiry should be recorded on a contact sheet together with the advice given to the enquirer.

In the event of there being a second enquiry about a child who is not known to Children's Services, not only should the fact of the earlier enquiry be notified to the later enquirer, but the Designated Manager in Children's Services should ensure that the local authority's consider whether this is or may be a Child in Need.

The Department for Education holds lists of the names of designated managers and should be notified of any changes.

See also guidance in Information Sharing and Confidentiality Procedure provides further guidance about law and best practice with respect to information exchange.


12. Complaints by Service Users

Parents / carers and, on occasion children, may have concerns about which they may wish to make representations or complain, in respect of one or more of the following aspects of the functioning of Child Protection Conferences:

  • The process of the Conference;
  • The outcome, in terms of the fact of and/or the category of primary concern at the time the child became the subject of a Child Protection Plan;
  • A decision for the child to become, or not to become, the subject of a Child Protection Plan or not to cease being the subject of a Child Protection Plan.

Complaints about individual agencies, their performance and provision (or non-provision) of services should be responded to in accordance with the relevant agency's complaints handling process.

Any complaint about aspects of the functioning of Conferences described above should be addressed to the Conference Chair. In the first instance (s)he should attempt to address the complaint informally and this may include holding a meeting with the complainant.

If matters cannot be resolved at this stage the complaint should be passed on to Children's Services and be responded to in accordance with the 'Complaints Policy and Procedure'.

In considering and responding to complaints Children's Services should form an inter-agency panel made up of senior representatives from HSCB member agencies. The panel should consider whether the relevant procedures have been observed correctly, and whether the decision that is being complained about follows reasonably from the proper observation of the relevant protocols and procedures.

If following this process, the complaint is upheld, the inter-agency panel (including any review panel that is set up further to review an ongoing complaint) should refer any recommendation regarding the criteria in bullet points 1-3 of Section 10, Administrative Arrangements to a reconvened Child Protection Conference.

This should be held as quickly as possible under the authority of a different Chair and child protection team, which should again consider, taking into account any recommendation made, whether the test of whether the child has suffered significant harm or is likely to suffer significant harm in the future is met and if so the relevant category for concern.

A complainant who continues to be dissatisfied with the outcome of the reconvened Child Protection Conference may seek a review of the position from the inter-agency panel. The review panel should be convened and operated in accordance with the current complaints regulations.

In addition, representations and complaints may be received by individual agencies in respect of services provided (or not provided) as a consequence of assessments and Conferences, including those set out in Child Protection Plans. Such concerns should be responded to by the relevant agency in accordance with its own processes for responding to such matters.


Appendix 1: Children with Child Protection Plans who attend Children's Centres

Introduction

Children’s centres are required to work with all “families in greatest need” in the geographical area they cover. Children’s centres should be supporting the most vulnerable children aged under five in their community and supporting the Hertfordshire’s Children’s Services ‘Step up / Step down’ processes.

Safeguarding children is a paramount concern for everyone involved in children’s centres. All children’s centres must have clear policies and procedures for child protection, which are consistent with the procedures and guidance of the Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Board.

Children’s centres, because of their direct work with young children and their families, have a crucial role in noticing indicators of possible abuse or neglect, and in referring concerns to the appropriate agency. They are also well placed to assist social care services by providing information and advice for Section 47 enquiries, e.g. about the potential impact of intervention on the child’s care or behaviour.

Designated Person within Children’s Centre

Every children’s centre must have a Designated Person. The role of the designated person is to ensure all children’s centre staff are competent in their knowledge of child protection and know how to act if faced with child protection issues including the reporting and recording of such issues.

The designated person is responsible for:

  • Liaison with local statutory children’s services agencies as appropriate receiving training in inter-agency procedures that enables them to work in partnership with other agencies;
  • Ensuring that child protection procedures are included in the induction training of new staff;
  • Making sure that parents are aware that children’s centre staff have a duty to share child protection issues with other professionals and agencies;
  • Ensuring that the children’s centre is represented at child protection conferences (if required) and that the representatives are prepared for child protection conferences;
  • Maintaining records of children using the centre who have been identified as at risk and are subject to referral, assessment, or a child protection plan;
  • Making referrals to social care services regarding children about whom there are safeguarding or child protection concerns;
  • Be the single point of contact for all members of staff who have a child protection concern.

Links with Social Care and Children with Child Protection Plans

It is an Ofsted requirement that children’s centres are informed about the children aged under five in their geographical area with a child protection plan. Recent Ofsted reports have shown that Ofsted inspectors are not satisfied with centres knowing simply the numbers of children with a child protection plan, they expect the centre to know the names of the children and families concerned and be able to report how they are supporting these children and contributing to improving outcomes.

Currently all children’s centres receive contact details for all children under five with a child protection plan on a quarterly basis.

  1. For new cases

    Every conference for a child under five should notify the local children’s centre about the child (with parental permission), with the purpose of identifying support services provided by the centre for the child and their family. If the family/conference decides that the information should not be shared this should be noted formally and the local children’s centre should be informed of the numbers of anonymous children with a child protection plan living in their geographical area via a quarterly report. There should be a clear rationale why the conference feels that information cannot be shared. If the conference decides that information should be shared with the children’s centre (with parental permission), this action will be identified in the child protection plan and the key worker will then contact the children’s centre to pass on the basic data for the child (name, address, date of birth, name of parent/carer) and discuss how the family might be supported by the centre. The key worker will liaise with the centre and report back at the Core Group meeting about how the family is engaging with the children’s centre. Children’s centre staff may be invited to attend the Core Group meeting if appropriate and should receive copies of the conference report and plan;
  2. If a children’s centre is already working intensively with a child under five and their family, then the member of the centre’s staff should be invited to attend the Initial Child Protection Conference and be a member of the Core Group. In this case the children’s centre staff member will receive copies of the child protection plan and minutes from meetings;
  3. All confidential materials must be stored securely;
  4. Existing cases

    For children under five who currently have a child protection plan and who are not known by their children’s centre, the next review meeting should consider whether to notify the local children’s centre (with parental permission) and take action as in point 2 above.

End