What Happens at a Child Protection Review Conference?
A review conference will be held if the core group decides that a child is at risk of significant harm. It will include all agencies that have been involved with the family.
The child will usually be invited to attend all or part of the conference. They will be helped to prepare by their social worker or independent advocate.
Every child protection conference is chaired by a person called a Child Protection Reviewing Officer (Chair). They will not have been involved in the investigation of the concerns so that they are independent. Agencies should share information with the family in advance of the meeting and ensure that it is clear which children are being discussed.
The conference will consider whether the child continues to be at risk of Significant Harm and hence continues to need safeguarding through adherence to a child protection plan. The conference will also decide whether the plan should continue going forward.
The parents should be invited to all conferences unless the presence of the parent would prejudice the welfare of the child. They should be offered an interpreter where necessary. They should also be given a copy of the minutes. If they are excluded, the Chair should tell them why and offer alternative ways for them to express their views.
The conference is a meeting between the family and the professionals that are working with the child. They will decide whether your child is at risk of significant harm and agree what actions need to be taken to reduce the risk. A plan will be created at the end of the conference detailing what needs to happen in the future. This may be a Child Protection Plan or it could be a Child in Need Plan.
It is important that you attend this conference and are involved in the planning for your child. You can ask to bring a friend or advocate with you to support you during the conference. You can also record your views for the conference to listen to later, but this must be agreed by the chair before the meeting begins.
The conference will then meet again three and six months later to see if the plan is working. Further review conferences are held at monthly intervals until concerns have been addressed and a child no longer requires the protection of a protection order.
During the conference, decisions are made about what will happen to help you and your child. These will be set out in a plan.
You will get a copy of the plan after the conference. You can ask for a different one if you want to. Someone will take notes during the conference. This is so there’s a record of what happens.
The conference decides if the child should continue to be subject of a Child Protection Plan or if it should be removed. The Chair of the conference will ask all agencies whether they think the plan should be maintained or removed and their view will be recorded. If a majority of the agencies believe that the child is at risk of significant harm, then the Chair of the conference will decide whether to maintain the plan or remove it.
Analysis of the conferences held in two local authority areas found that a minority were ‘child-focused’ during their decision-making discussions and plans (where required or created). All children should be helped to convey their views during conferences by a variety of means, for example written statements, video recordings, or with the help of an advocate.
During the conference, a plan will be created about what everyone is going to do to keep your children safe and help them flourish. This will include actions that are to be taken by professionals who work with you, including teachers, doctors, health visitors, school nurses and probation officers. The plan will be kept in a very confidential place called the Child Protection Register. It can only be shared with people who have been given permission to do so by the chair of the conference.
A review conference will then be held within three and six months from the original conference to decide whether or not a plan needs to continue. The group will also decide when the plan is no longer required if it was a Child Protection Plan or Child in Need Plan, or if concerns have been resolved.
In order for CPCs to be more child-focused, more time needs to be ring-fenced in conferences to consider children’s views and daily lived experiences.