A parent or carer has asked for your support at a child protection conference to be held about their child. Thisexplains what the meeting is for, what will happen, and how you can take part.
We normally invite parents and carers to child protection conferences, as it is important for them to hear what is being said about what has happened, and importantly gives them a chance to put their own point of view and ask questions.
However, these meetings can be difficult. As someone who knows the parent or carer you can support them by understanding their worries and anxieties and helping them to have their say and ask questions.
Child protection enquiries are undertaken when concerns that a child may be being abused or neglected are reported by a member of the public or by an agency, for example, a teacher, GP or health visitor.
When the enquiries show that a child may have been harmed or may be harmed in the future, a meeting called a child protection conference is held.
The professionals at the conference may include the: social worker and social work manager; member of the police family protection team; health visitor, school doctor or nurse; family doctor; teacher or head of school; nursery or family centre worker; probation officer; local authority solicitor.
The chairperson of the conference is independent and will chair the meeting on behalf of the City of York Safeguarding Children Partnership.
The parent or carer you are supporting will have been given a leaflet explaining about the conference, and will have told their social worker that you will be their supporter at the conference.
It is important for you to meet with the parent or carer before the conference to discuss how you can best help them at the meeting, and what they want you to help them say.
You do not need to talk to the child about their views, as the parent or carer and the social worker will speak for the child at the conference.
You will have the chance to talk to the chairperson before the meeting starts to find out more about the meeting, and how you can best help the parent or carer have their say. The chairperson will explain your role, and answer your questions.
In most conferences, the parent or carer is able to speak for him or herself and get all their points across, so the supporter is mainly there to listen and observe. However, this is not always the case, in which case the chairperson will ask the parent or carer if you can speak on their behalf.
The conference will begin with the chairperson asking everyone to introduce him or herself. Those professionals involved in the child protection enquiries will explain the outcome of the enquiries and information will be provided about the child and their family from all of the agencies involved. Following this the chairperson will summarise what has been said leading to a discussion about the likelihood of future risk to the child. Finally, a decision will be made as to whether the child is in need of a Child Protection Plan
As a supporter you will not be asked to take part in the decisions that are made at the meeting. However, it will be important for you to listen to what is being said, and help the person you are supporting have their say.
Anything said in the meeting is confidential and must not be discussed with anyone outside of the conference. You will not receive a written copy of what is said in the meeting, although the parent or carer will.
To make sure the meeting can decide what is in the child’s best interest, the meeting will be formal. This means that everybody has the chance to speak without being interrupted.
The professionals at the conference will decide if the child needs a Child Protection Plan, designed to help protect the child from harm.
Services and support will be provided for the child and the parent or carer, and where possible, the child will stay at home and remain in contact with family and friends.
The parent and carer will have a say in the details of the plan, both at the conference and at further meetings.