The conference Chair must be:
- a professional who is independent of operational or line management responsibility for the case;
- trained in chairing Child Protection Conferences;
- someone with a good understanding and professional knowledge of child protection, children’s welfare and development, and best practice in working with children and families;
- able to look objectively at and assess the implications of the evidence on which judgements should be based;
- skilled in chairing meetings in a way which encourages constructive participation while maintaining a clear focus on the welfare of the child.
How to do it
The role of the conference Chair is to:
- meet the child and family members in advance, to ensure that they understand the purpose of the conference and what will happen;
- decide whether or not there are valid reasons for excluding any family members from attending the conference if this request is made;
- ensure that the conference agenda is followed;
- enable all those present, including children and family members, to make their full contribution to discussion and decision making.
- ensure that the conference makes the decisions required of it in an informed systematic and explicit way;
- enable conference members to share all appropriate information and evaluate risks;
- ensure that the conference focuses on the child and that the child’s voice is heard;
- ensure that the conference is conducted in an anti-discriminatory manner and gives proper consideration to issues of race, culture, language, religion, gender and disability;
- ensure that dissenting views and reasons are recorded in full;
- clearly differentiate between fact, observation, allegation and opinion;
- establish the opinions of lead persons (from professional groupings) about placing the child’s name on the child protection register;
- draw together the views of the conference members and arbitrate where different views are being expressed;
- be available after the conference to explain decisions to parents and children;
- take responsibility for the accuracy of the conference minutes.