Child protection conferences
A child protection conference brings together people who are concerned about your child's welfare and safety so they can share information and decide whether your child may or may not be at risk.
Who takes part?
There will be:
- A social worker and other staff from Care, Wellbeing and Learning.
- There will also be people from other organisations such as:
- a teacher;
- a health visitor;
- or the police who have had contact with your child or who have relevant information to contribute.
- There may be others present to advise the conference and your social worker will explain who they are and why they are there.
The conference will be chaired by an independent person.
What should I do?
Parents are usually invited to attend and we would encourage you to do so. Children over 14 will also normally be invited to attend.
We realise that child protection conferences can be a daunting, and sometimes upsetting, experience. We would be happy for you to bring someone along to support you such as a relative, friend or perhaps your solicitor.
You will have an opportunity to speak to the person chairing the meeting before the conference who will explain what will happen during the meeting.
If you do not want to attend yourself but would like someone to come in your place to put across your views you should discuss this in advance with your social worker. Alternatively you could write down your views and send them to the chairperson who will make sure they are raised at the meeting.
What actually happens at the conference?
If there are any written reports these will be circulated at the beginning and everyone will have a chance to read them before the meeting starts. The chairperson will explain the format of the conference, the order in which people will be asked to speak and what decisions need to be made by the end of the conference.
All of the information will be discussed and you will be able to ask questions. The meeting will then make its decision and any recommendations based on the information which has been shared.
What sort of decisions can the conference make?
The only decision the conference can make is whether your child should be made the subject of a child protection plan. This will happen only if the conference feels there is, or is a likelihood of, significant harm to the child and that a child protection plan is necessary.
If the decision is to make your child the subject of a child protection a lead social worker will be nominated for your child and the other people who will be involved in working with you and your family will be identified. This is known as the 'core group'.
The conference will also agree who will do what to support you and your family as part of the child protection plan.
You will be sent a copy of the child protection plan within a day of the conference, followed by a copy of the chair's report within 20 working days of the meeting.
If there is anything you are unhappy about you should raise it at the conference or arrange to talk it over with the social worker or the chairperson afterwards when they will try and sort things out. If you are still unhappy however they will explain what further action you can take.
The Safeguarding Children Unit keeps a list of all children in Gateshead who are subject of a child protection plan. This information is kept securely at the Civic Centre and access is not available to the general public.
Every child protection plan is reviewed at a child protection review conference initially after three months and then at least every six months. These review conferences must decide whether a child continues to need a child protection plan.
Safeguarding Children Unit
0191 433 8031
Fax: 0191 433 3950