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Initial child protection case conference

These meetings are held within ten working days of the social work manager making a decision that the appropriate threshold has been met for convening a case conference.

Focus of meeting

The main focus of this meeting is to make decisions about registration, agree a suitable plan to reduce the risk of harm, identify a lead professional and all key personnel helping the family. This information is recorded.

Throughout the conference all agency members need to remain focused on risk of harm to the child and be aware of the potential of minimising the child's likely experiences through concentration on the parents needs.  This should not prevent parenting strengths being highlighted and explored to see if these strengths could protect their children.

All professionals attending a child protection case conference have a professional responsibility to contribute fully to the process, pass on relevant information and give their opinion appropriately throughout the meeting.

Referral to the Children's Convenor

The child protection case conference must decide whether a referral to the Children's Convenor should be made. If so, this will be part of the child protection plan and the social worker or chair will make the referral.  The discussion to decide who this is to be will take place immediately following the conference.  The referral will be made no later than within two working days.

Specific requirements

You should let the conference chair know as soon as possible any particular requirements for the conference, for example, interpreters, separate attendance by family members and possible exclusions.

Reports for conference

Reports should be available to the chair of the conference and the parents in enough time for them to read and consider the contents and question the writer. These reports should not be unnecessarily wordy.

Confidential information should be recorded separately from the main agency report and brought to the chair's attention. The chair will decide who should remain in the conference while this information is shared.

For more information see Written reports.

Child's voice

The child protection case conference chair will contribute towards the quality assurance of child protection conferences.

It is the responsibility of the conference chair to show that the child's voice was heard in the conference and that the child was able to influence decision making. If it was not, the chair should ensure that it will be included in any work that happens after the conference.

Particular attention should also be given to those who have direct and regular contact with the child, who are able to give a clear account of that child's wishes and feelings.

Interpreters should be considered where the family's first language is not English, or where anyone has needs because of a disability.

Lessons from research

The enquiry into the death of Caleb Ness, who died aged 11 weeks, focused on the child protection conference about him. It was noted that the ward nurse, who was attending her first conference, did not feel able to say what she really thought, because she felt herself to be of lower status than the other professionals there. Unfortunately, she was the person who had spent most time with the parents and the child.

It is therefore important to make sure that all members of the conference, including children and parents, are taking part fully, and this should not be the sole responsibility of the chair.


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