3.9 Child Protection Review Conferences
AMENDMENTThis chapter was updated in June 2015. In Section 7, Outcomes, amended - The Lead Social Worker must discuss with parents and child(ren) what services continue to be needed, based on the re-assessment of the child and family and a Child in Need Plan made if support continues.
- Criteria for Discontinuing the Child Protection Plan
- Dissent from Review Conference Decision
The purpose of a Child Protection Review Conference is:
- To receive the completed assessment from the Core Group at the first Review (within three months of the Initial Child Protection Conference);
- To review the safety, health and development of the child against planned outcomes set out in the Child Protection Plan and Assessment;
- To ensure that the measures put in place to safeguard the child continue to be effective and appropriate;
- To consider the child’s wishes and feelings;
- To bring together and analyse information about the child’s health, development and functioning and the parent’s capacity to ensure and promote the child’s welfare;
- To consider whether the Child Protection Plan should remain in place or should be changed and set desired outcomes and timescales;
- To examine the current level of risk;
- To determine the need for further assessment;
- To check that inter-agency co-ordination is functioning effectively;
- Make judgements about the likelihood of the child suffering Significant Harm in the future;
- To consider if the child’s need for safeguarding can be met without a Child Protection Plan in place.
The Child Protection Review Conference must decide explicitly if the child is still at continued risk of Significant Harm and hence whether there is an ongoing need for a Child Protection Plan. The same decision-making procedure should be used to reach a judgment on this issue as is used at the Initial Child Protection Conference.
If the Child Protection Plan continues, the relevance of the Category of Significant Harm must be reviewed.
A child should no longer be the subject of a Child Protection Plan if:
- It is judged that the child is no longer at continuing risk of Significant Harm requiring safeguarding by means of a Child Protection Plan (e.g. the likelihood of harm has been reduced by action taken through the Child Protection Plan; the child and family’s circumstances have changed; all reassessment of the child and family indicates that a Child Protection Plan is not necessary). Under these circumstances, a Child Protection Review Conference will usually decide that the Child Protection Plan is no longer necessary – however in Oldham, Bury, Tameside and Trafford, a Child Protection Review Conference is not required where the child has been made the subject of an Interim Care Order;
- The child and family have moved permanently to another local authority area. In such cases, the receiving local authority should convene a Child Protection Conference within 15 working days of being notified of the move. Only after this event may discontinuing the Child Protection Plan take place in respect of the original local authority’s Child Protection Plan.
See North West Protocol in Relation to Notification and Transfer of Children with a Child Protection Plan Across Local Authority Boundaries;
- The child has reached 18 years of age (to end the Child Protection Plan, the local authority should have a review around the child’s birthday and this should be planned in advance including transition and safeguarding arrangements with Adults Services), has died or has permanently left the UK. In the latter case, all reasonable efforts will be made to liaise with relevant agencies in the receiving country.
In the case of the second and third criteria as listed above, it is permissible for the Designated Manager (Children with a Child Protection Plan) to remove a child’s name from the List without the need to convene a Child Protection Review Conference only when (s)he has consulted with relevant agencies present at the conference which first decided that a Child Protection Plan was required, in which case the decision and the outcome of the consultation should be recorded in the child protection section of the child’s file.
When a child is no longer the subject of a Child Protection Plan, notification should be sent, as a minimum, to all those agency representatives who were invited to attend the Child Protection Conference that led to the Child Protection Plan.
The Conference Chair should also write to the parents and the child (depending on his/her age and understanding) advising them of the decision.
- Except in relation to 3. below, the first Review Conference should be held within three months of the date of the Initial Conference;
- Further reviews must be held at intervals of not more than six months, for as long as the child requires a Child Protection Plan;
- Where an unborn child has been identified as requiring a Child Protection Plan at a pre-birth conference, the first Review Conference should be scheduled to take place within one month of the child’s birth or within three months of the pre-birth conference whichever is the sooner;
- An early Review Conference should be considered in the following circumstances:
- Where there is a further incident or allegation of Significant Harm to a child with a Child Protection Plan;
- If the Child Protection Plan is failing to protect the child or if there are significant difficulties in carrying out the Plan;
- Where there is a significant change in the circumstances of the child or family not anticipated at the previous conference and with implications for the safety of the child;
- Where the previous Conference was inquorate.
NB Child Protection Review Conferences will only be rearranged in exceptional circumstances and with the agreement of the Conference Chair.
The Lead Social Worker should provide a typed, signed and dated written report including a chronology of significant events, which must be endorsed and counter signed by his or her manager.
Information on all children in the household must be provided and the report should be clear about which children are the subjects of the conference.
Social workers must ensure that individuals submitted for checking for review conferences are still significant to the subjects, if not they must be removed from the invitation received by the police to the conference.
Core Group members should also provide written information which may be contained in a separate report or one coordinated by the Lead Social Worker.
The Conference will require as part of the written report:
- Contributions by all Core Group members, commissioned pieces of work and parental views;
- An evaluation of the progress made in reducing the risk to the child whilst the subject of a Child Protection Plan;
- At the first Review, a copy of the full Assessment, together with any specialist assessments that have been commissioned, an analysis of the assessment findings and recommendations for the Child Protection Plan;
- A view from the Core Group as to whether or not the child continues to need a Child Protection Plan.
The report should be provided to parents and older children where appropriate three working days before the Review Conference, to enable any factual inaccuracies to be identified, amended and areas of disagreement noted. Comments or suggestions made by the child/parents as a result of seeing the report must be included or conveyed verbally to the conference.
In exceptional circumstances where confidential information cannot be shared with the child or parent(s) beforehand, the author of the report should seek guidance from their manager and the Conference Chair.
Where necessary, the report should be translated into the relevant language or medium, taking account of the language and any sensory or learning difficulties of the child/parents.
Each member of the Core Group has a responsibility to produce an individual agency report on the child and the family for the Child Protection Review Conference or to contribute to a shared report. Those unable to attend should forward a copy of this report to the Conference Chair.
All contributors should provide a written report to the Conference Chair at least three working days in advance of the Review Conference.
Attendees should include the Chair and Core Group members.
As the police do not routinely attend Review Conferences it is important that any Police involvement with the child, family or household between Conferences is brought to the attention of the Review Conference. Therefore the police must always provide written information to the meeting.
Members of the Initial Child Protection Conference will be informed at the end of the Conference of the date of the Review Conference, which will also be recorded in the minutes.
The Safeguarding Unit (see Local Contacts) will be responsible for the preparation of the minutes (see Section 9, Minutes). The Lead Social Worker will advise parents, children and foster carers, and will have the same responsibilities as a social worker prior to an Initial Child Protection Conference - see Initial Child Protection Conferences Procedure, Responsibilities of the Social Worker before the Conference.
Each Child Protection Review Conference will set the date for the next review and note this date in the minutes. All agencies must ensure the relevant representatives have the date of the Review Conference in their diaries.
If a Child Protection Review Conference decides that a child no longer requires a Child Protection Plan, the parents will be informed in person, if present at the meeting and in writing by the Conference Chair.
Any dissenting views or disagreements with this decision will be recorded in the minutes.
NB Child Protection Review Conferences will only be rearranged in exceptional circumstances and with the agreement of the Conference Chair.
If not, then the child should no longer be the subject of a Child Protection Plan.
The Conference Chair will have the same decision making powers at the Child Protection Review Conference as at the Initial Child Protection Conferences - see Initial Child Protection Conferences Procedure, The Decision Making Process.
A child who is no longer the subject of a Child Protection Plan may still require additional support and services and discontinuing the Child Protection Plan should never lead to the automatic withdrawal of help. The Lead Social Worker should discuss with the parents and the child what services might be wanted and required, based upon the re-assessment of the needs of the child and family.
The Lead Social Worker must discuss with parents and child(ren) what services continue to be needed, based on the re-assessment of the child and family and a Child in Need Plan made if support continues.
It may be useful for regular meetings, such as Family Support meetings, Family Group meetings or Assessment Planning meetings, to be convened following this decision to provide a formal opportunity to review the provision of services to the child and family and to facilitate ongoing multi-agency support.
In cases where there is disagreement regarding the outcome of the Review Conference, the Conference Chair will attempt to facilitate the conference to reach a consensus.
The Decision Making Process of Initial Child Protection Conferences Procedure sets out the decision-making powers of the Conference Chair where there is no consensus.
If an agency does not agree with a decision or recommendation made at a Review Conference, the dissent will be recorded in the minutes of the conference.
Where the issue is not resolved, the agency may consider taking action under the Resolving Professional Differences/Escalation Policy.
If parents/carers disagree with the Review Conference decision, the Conference Chair must further discuss their concerns and explain their rights to challenge under the Complaints About Child Protection Conferences Procedure.
All conferences will be minuted by administrative staff whose sole task within the Conference is to provide a written record of proceedings in a consistent format. The Conference Chair is responsible for ensuring that the minutes accurately reflect the discussion held and the decisions and recommendations made.
The Minutes should include:
- Name, date of birth, ethnicity and address of the subject(s) of the conference, parents/carers and other adults in the household;
- Who was invited, who attended the conference and who submitted their apologies;
- Who was present during the confidential slot of the conference;
- The reason for the conference;
- A list of written reports available to conference and whether open to parents or not;
- Progress of the Child Protection Plan;
- A summary/update of the Assessment.
The information shared within the confidential slot of the conference will be recorded separately:
- Views and wishes of each child;
- Views of parents/carers;
- Opinions of agencies on risks and protective factors and whether the child should continue to have a Child Protection Plan;
- Decision on the need for a Child Protection Plan with information outlining the reasons, including the identified category of Significant Harm or the reasons why the child no longer requires a Child Protection Plan;
- Any changes to the Child Protection Plan, if the child continues to require a Child Protection Plan;
- Confirmation of name of Lead Social Worker if child continues to have a Child Protection Plan;
- Members of the Core Group if child continues to have a Child Protection Plan and the date of the next Core Group meeting;
- Date of next Child Protection Review Conference.
A record of the decisions and recommendations made will be sent to all those who attended the conference within one working day.
The minutes of the conference, signed by the Conference Chair, will be sent to all professionals who attended or were invited, and to relevant family members as soon as possible after the Conference.
Copies of the minutes should be given to the parents, child (if old enough) and the child’s advocate by the Lead Social Worker where appropriate.
Where parents and/or the child(ren) have a sensory disability or where English is not their first language, steps must be taken to ensure that they can understand and make full use of the minutes.
Where a parent or child has been fully excluded from the conference, the decision on what information they should receive will be taken by the Conference Chair in consultation with other conference members.
Where a supporter, solicitor, other family member or observer has attended a conference, the minutes will not be distributed to them unless they have a role in the Child Protection Plan and the conference agrees it appropriate.
Where a child has attended a Child Protection Conference, the Lead Social Worker must arrange to see her/him and arrange to discuss relevant sections of the minutes.
Conference minutes are confidential and should not be passed to third parties without the consent of the Conference Chair and/or Lead Social Worker or by a Court Order.