A child protection conference is a meeting that is held when social care or any other agency working with your children believe them to be at risk of significant harm and feel that extra support is needed for you, your family or your children to ensure their safety.
Essex County Council operates a Strengths Based Approach to child protection conferences, which means that information shared at the conference will be recorded on a white board under four main headings:
The meeting will be chaired by someone called a child protection co-ordinator, who is independent from how you or how your family’s needs are managed on a day to day basis, to make sure that any decisions reached or plans made at the child protection conference is done fairly and that everyone has a chance to have their say.
The purpose of the conference is to make sure that everyone fully understands the concerns for your child/ren and is clear about the things that are going well.
Who will attend this meeting?
Where relevant, any members of your family will attend along with any professional agencies working with your children. Agencies that have an interest in child protection (such as the police) will also be invited even if they have not directly worked with you or your family.
It is really important that you attend these meetings, so if you want to bring someone to support you that is fine, however, please let either the chair person or your social worker know.
Wherever possible all the adults that play an important role in the life of the child attend the conference. Whilst there may be times that this may not be possible, the decision regarding who does or does not attend conference rests with the CPC.
Information will be shared at this meeting regarding any adult who plays an important role in the life of the child/ren. This information will be shared by all agencies attending. It is important that this information is confidential to those attending and not to be shared outside of conference in any format.
What happens at the meeting?
Before the meeting starts, you will be met by the child protection co-ordinator, who will go through with you how the conference will be run. They will also check that you have had a chance to read all of the relevant reports as well as whether there are any factual errors. The professionals attending the meeting will be in a another room reading the reports that you have already seen. This is known as the pre-meet.
Please make sure that you use this opportunity to ask any questions that you may have about the meeting, the reports and let the child protection co-ordinator know if there is any way in which they can support you, to make sure that you can attend and take part in all of the meeting.
The professionals will join you in the conference room and everyone will be asked to share what information they have and this will be recorded on a whiteboard by the child protection co-ordinator. Everyone will be asked to share their information in a respectful and non-discriminatory manner.
Once all of the information has been shared everyone will be asked to give a score from 0-10. This is a sliding scale with a score of 0 meaning there is no safety at all and 10 meaning that there is maximum safety. This is known as the Safety Scale.
As a result of all of the information shared and the score on the safety scale a plan will be formulated and a decision made as to whether or not this plan should be either a child in need plan or a child protection plan. If it is agreed that the best way to support you is with a child protection plan a decision will be made as to what title (often referred to as a category) this plan will have. There are 4 titles (categories) that are used in Essex, they are the same categories that are used everywhere else in the country. These are physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse or neglect. Your child protection co-ordinator will explain the differences between child protection and child in need plans as well as their role in how this decision is reached. They will also explain what the four categories mean during your pre-meet.
What happens after the meeting?
Whether it is agreed that the plan is either a child protection plan or a child in need plan, further meetings will be arranged. Your social worker and the protection co-ordinator will explain the purpose of these meetings.
A strengths based approach to child protection conferences has been introduced across Essex.
Anyone attending a child protection conference in the strengths based approach format must complete a multi agency conference report form
There is a Child Protection Pre-Conference Young Person Feedback Form for young people aged 8- 17.