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1.9 Child Protection Review Conferences

AMENDMENT

This chapter was amended in July 2016 and includes information on Looked After Children with a Child Protection Plan.


Contents

  1. Purpose
  2. Frequency
  3. Lead Social Worker's Report
  4. Attendance
  5. Exclusion of Family Members from Conferences
  6. Administration and Record of Conference
  7. Outcomes
  8. Criteria for Discontinuing the Child Protection Plan
  9. Looked After Children with a Child Protection Plan


1. Purpose

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 Child and Family 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 continue 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 needs can be met without the need for a Child Protection Plan.

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 the child to be subject to 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.

If the child no longer requires a Child Protection Plan, the conference should consider what support may benefit the child and family, who is responsible for providing that support, whether a Family Group Conference or other Planning Meeting and /or a Child in Need Plan is required, it's components and how it should be reviewed on a regular basis.


2. Frequency

  1. Except in relation to 3 below, the first Review Conference should be held within 3 months of the date of the Initial Conference;
  2. Further reviews must be held at intervals of not more than 6 months, for as long as the child requires a Child Protection Plan;
  3. An early Review Conference should be convened 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 of there are significant difficulties in carrying out the Plan;
    • Where a child is to be born into the household of a child with a Child Protection Plan;
    • Where a person considered to pose a risk to children is to join or commences; regular contact with children in the household;
    • 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 a child with a Child Protection Plan is Looked After by the local authority and consideration is being given to returning the child to the circumstances where care of the child required a Child Protection Plan (unless this step is anticipated in the existing protection plan);
    • Where the Core Group believe that the child no longer requires a Child Protection Plan;
    • Where the previous Conference was inquorate.


3. Lead Social Worker's Report

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.  

The Conference will require as part of the written report:

  • Co-ordination by the Lead Social Worker of the written individual agency reports contributed by 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;
  • A copy of 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 in advance of 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 Lead Social Worker should seek guidance from his or her manager, who may wish to consult the Independent 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.

The report should be provided to the Independent Conference Chair at least 5 working days in advance of the Review Conference.

All contributors who are providing a written report to the conference should, wherever possible, arrange for the report to be shared with the family in advance of the conference and made available to those attending. Those unable to attend should forward a copy of the agency report to the Lead Social Worker and Case Conference Administrator.


4. Attendance

Attendees should include those most involved with the child and family in the same way as at an Initial Child Protection Conference.


5. Exclusion of Family Members from Conferences

This section was revised following a Serious Case Review in Oxfordshire. It is now based on the London Child Protection Procedures.

Exclusion From Conferences:

Exclusion of family members from conferences.

  1. Exceptionally, it may be necessary to exclude one or more family members from part or all of a conference;
  2. These situations will be rare and the Independent Conference Chair, or other participants, must be notified as soon as possible by the social worker if it is considered necessary to exclude one or both parents for all or part of a conference. The Independent Conference Chair should make a decision taking into account all the relevant circumstances which may include the following:
    • Indications that the presence of the parent may seriously prejudice the welfare of the child;
    • Sufficient evidence that a parent may behave in such a way as to interfere seriously with the work of the conference such as violence, threats of violence, racist or other forms of discriminatory or oppressive behaviour, or being in an unfit state (e.g. through drug, alcohol consumption or acute mental health difficulty). A friend or advocate may represent them at the conference if agreed beforehand by the Independent Conference Chair;
    • A child requests that the parent / person with Parental Responsibility is not present while they are present;
    • The presence of one or both parents would prevent a professional from making their proper contribution through concerns about violence or intimidation (which should be communicated in advance to the Independent Conference Chair);
    • The need (agreed in advance with the Independent Conference Chair) for members to receive confidential information that would otherwise be unavailable, such as confidential legal advice or information about a criminal investigation;
    • Conflicts between different family members who may not be able to attend at the same time (e.g. in situations of domestic violence and abuse).

    If a decision to exclude a parent is made, the reasons for this must be fully recorded in the record and the exclusion period should be for the minimum duration necessary. Exclusion at one conference is not reason enough in itself for exclusion at further conferences;

  3. It may also become clear in the course of a conference that its effectiveness will be seriously impaired by the presence of the parent/s. In these circumstances the Independent Conference Chair may ask them to leave;
  4. Where a worker from any agency believes a parent should be excluded, on the basis of the above criteria, representation must be made in advance to the Independent Conference Chair. If possible representation should be made at least three working days in advance;
  5. The agency concerned must indicate which of the grounds it believes is met and the information or evidence on which the request is based. The Independent Conference Chair must consider the representation carefully and may need legal advice;
  6. If, prior to the conference, the Independent Conference Chair has decided to exclude a parent, this must be communicated in writing with information on how they may make their views known, how they will be told the outcome of the conference and about the complaints procedure. See Professional Disagreement and Escalation Policy;
  7. If, in planning a conference, it becomes clear to the Chair that there may be a conflict of interest between the children and the parents, the conference should be planned so that the welfare of the child can remain paramount;
  8. This may mean arranging for the child and parents to participate in separate parts of the conference and make separate waiting arrangements;
  9. Those excluded should be provided with a copy of the social worker's report to the conference and be provided with the opportunity to have their views recorded and presented to the conference. The Independent Conference Chair will determine whether or not the excluded parent should receive a full record of the conference, a record without the excluded information or no record;
  10. Where a parent is excluded from part of the conference-on their return, so far as is possible, they should be informed of the content of the discussion that has taken place in their absence;
  11. Where a parent is on bail, or subject to an active police investigation, it is the responsibility of the Independent Conference Chair to ensure that the police representative can fully present their information and views and also that the parents participate as fully as circumstances allow. This might mean that if the police representative is a police officer they may be asked to leave a conference after providing information. It is not appropriate for a police officer to administer a caution to parents prior to the conference; the purpose of the conference is to enable analysis and not to progress a criminal investigation;
  12. The decision of the Independent Conference Chair over matters of exclusion is final regarding parents, child/ren, advocates and professionals;
  13. If parents and / or children do not wish to attend the conference they must be provided with full opportunities to contribute their views. The social worker must facilitate this by:
    • The use of an advocate or supporter to attend on behalf of the parent or child;
    • Enabling the child or parent to write or tape or use drawings to represent their views;
    • Agreeing that the social worker, or any other professional, expresses their views;


6. Administration and Record of Conference

The same arrangements apply to the administration and preparing the minutes of the Review Conference as for the Initial Child Protection Conference.

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 Record of Conference. 

The Case Conference Administrator will be responsible for sending/emailing a Decision of Case Conference document to all invited agencies within 24 hours of the conference. This will include future meeting dates. The Case Conference Administrator is responsible for the the preparation of the Record of Conference.

The Lead Social Worker will explain the process verbally to parents and children, and will have the same responsibilities as a social worker prior to an Initial Child Protection Conference – see Section 11, Responsibilities of the Social Worker before the Conference of the Initial Child Protection Conferences Procedure.

Each Child Protection Review Conference will set the date for the next review and note this date in the Record of Conference.

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 way of the Record of Conference.

Any dissenting views or disagreements with this decision will be recorded in the Record of Conference.


7. Outcomes

Every Review should consider explicitly whether the criteria for discontinuing the Child Protection Plan are met – see Section 7, Criteria for Discontinuing the Child Protection Plan

If not, then the child should no longer be the subject of a Child Protection Plan

The fact that the Child Protection Plan is discontinued should never lead to the automatic withdrawal of services. The Child Protection Review Conference can recommend that services should continue to remain available to the child/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 whether a Family Group Conference or other support-meeting is needed. A Child in Need Plan or another plan with a Lead Professional and Team Around the Child, if appropriate, should be made if continuing support is required.

It may be useful for regular 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.


8. Criteria for Discontinuing the Child Protection Plan

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. Under these circumstances, only a Child Protection Review Conference or Looked After Review can decide that a Child Protection Plan is no longer necessary;
  • The child reaches the age of 18 years - 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;
  • The child has moved permanently to another local authority area. In such cases, the receiving local authority should convene a Transfer Child Protection Conference within 15 working days of being notified of the move, and only after this has taken place may the Child Protection Plan be discontinued or transferred to the new local authority. See Children Moving Across Local Authority Boundaries Procedure;
  • The child has permanently left the UK. In which case all reasonable efforts will be made to liaise with relevant agencies in the receiving country;
  • The child has died.

In the case of the third and fourth criteria as listed above, it is permissible for the Service Manager, Safeguarding and Quality Assurance to remove a child’s name from the Record of Children with a Child Protection Plan 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 as a result of a Child Protection Review Conference decision, notification should be sent, as a minimum, to all those agencies’ representatives involved with the child and those who were invited to attend the Child Protection Conference that led to the Child Protection Plan.

 The Independent Conference Chair should also write to the parents and the child (depending on his/her age and understanding) advising them of the decision.  

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.

It may be useful for the Core Group to reconvene 3 months after the discontinuation of the Child Protection Plan to review the support services being provided to the family and to facilitate ongoing multi-agency support.


9. Looked After Children with a Child Protection Plan

This should be read in conjunction with the IRO Handbook 2010 and is reflected in the Looked After Children procedures. When a Looked After Child is no longer living in the situation which gave rise to the child protection concerns that resulted in him/her having a Child Protection Plan and there is no current plan for the child to be returned, or if this was anticipated at the previous Child Protection Conference, his/her Child Protection Plan may be discontinued. The decision to discontinue a Child Protection Plan must be a multi-agency one, agreed by the Child Protection Review Conference participants/Core Group members.

There are only three points at which this decision can be made; Initial Child Protection Case Conference (when the change of status is anticipated); Review Child Protection Case Conference (when the status is actual or anticipated); or at a LAC Review.

If a Child Protection Review Conference is planned to take place within 20 working days of the child becoming Looked After, the Conference must carefully consider and record the decision including justification for the child being the subject of dual CP and LAC plans. The Looked After Child who has a Child Protection Plan will also be subject to statutory child care review procedures.

Consideration should be given to the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) chairing the Child Protection Review Conference as well as the Looked After Review but, where that is not possible, it will be expected that the IRO will attend both meetings (unless the CP Conference chair is to become the child’s IRO which negates the need for this).

If a Review Child Protection Case Conference will not be held within 20 working days, the Independent Reviewing Officer and Independent Conference Chair (unless these are one in the same) will discuss the safeguarding issues within the context of the proposed LAC Care Plan. The need for an on-going Child Protection Plan will then be discussed at the 20 working day LAC review meeting within the context of the proposed LAC Care Plan.

At the point of the child becoming Looked After, the Independent Conference Chair will write to the involved agencies/Core Group to advise this is the case, requesting their views and advising that the child protection status of the child will be considered at the 20 working day LAC review, when their views will be taken into account.

Guidance Notes

Where a child is Looked After, decisions regarding the continued need for a Child Protection Plan should be made alongside consideration of the Care Plan. Looked After Reviews and Child Protection Review Conferences are separate meetings with different purposes. Consideration must be given to ensuring that the multi-agency contribution to the review of the Child Protection Plan is addressed within the review of the Care Plan, as the Looked After Review, in reviewing the child protection aspects of the child’s Care Plan, should consider whether the criteria continue to be met for the child to remain the subject of a Child Protection Plan. The Independent Reviewing Officer who chairs the LAC review will record the decision and CP conference members will be added to the distribution list. Correspondence must be sufficiently detailed to demonstrate a transparent collaborative approach to decision making is being taken.

The LAC Care Plan will be the primary means of safeguarding the safety and welfare of the child. A Child Protection Plan should only be necessary as a supplement if:

  • The child will be spending time in the household where the Significant Harm took place; or
  • With the adult responsible for the Significant Harm; or
  • While consultation about ending CP planning with relevant agencies is carried out; and/or
  • There is doubt about the sustainability of the child’s LAC status.

N.B. The plans made at Looked After Reviews must be consistent with the Child Protection Plan.

For cases where the potential of proceedings being initiated is clear at an earlier Initial or Review Child Protection Case Conference, in that meeting the Independent Conference Chair will seek Core Group/agency agreement to end the Child Protection Plan (without another conference) should an Order confirming the child will no longer be living in the household be made subsequently. 

Minimum fortnightly visits and six weekly core groups should be maintained until Child Protection planning is formally ended. However the protocol of reducing frequency of CP monitoring visits to monthly could be implemented to address this if appropriate.

Where a Looked After Review or other local authority child care planning meeting, proposes the return of a child with a Child Protection Plan to his or her parents or carers or any other change which might significantly affect the level of risk, the decision (unless this formed part of the original Child Protection Plan) must not be implemented until it has been considered by a Child Protection Review Conference.

Where there is disagreement within the subsequent Child Protection Review Conference, the situation must be brought to the attention of the social worker’s manager, who will decide whether or not to proceed with the plan made at the Looked After Review.

Where a child with a Child Protection Plan is removed from being Accommodated by his/her parents or where a Looked After Child is returned to his or her parents or carers in Court proceedings against the recommendation of the local authority, a Child Protection Review Conference must be convened to consider the risks to the child and the implications for the Child Protection Plan.

If necessary and appropriate, the local authority must take action to protect the child prior to the Child Protection Review Conference. This must not be delayed until after the Review Conference is convened if an enquiry or assessment indicates that it is required sooner.

End