A child protection conference (CPC) is a formal multi agency meeting that shares agencies’ assessments, including chronologies and risk assessments, and identifies necessary actions to protect a child.
The purpose of an initial CPC is:
- to bring together and analyse information about the child’s developmental needs and the parents’ or carers’ capacity to respond to these needs to ensure the child’s safety, and promote the child’s health and development within the context of their wider family and environment
- make judgements about the likelihood of the child suffering significant harm in future, and decide whether the child is continuing to, or is likely to, suffer significant harm either by the action or inactions of a parent or the child’s carer;
- to decide what future action is required to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child, including the child becoming the subject of a child protection plan, what the planned developmental outcomes are for the child and how best to intervene to achieve these
This is achieved by:
- Ensuring that all relevant information held by each agency has been shared and analysed on an inter-agency basis
- Reviewing decisions made during the strategy discussion and during any subsequent investigation
- Considering all information and initial assessments
- Considering the views of the children, parents and carers
After consideration of the above, the professionals in attendance have a responsibility to contribute to decision making, it is not acceptable to abstain.
Where the decision is made to make a child subject to a child protection plan, the CPC must then agree an outline plan. CPC will allocate a lead social worker, agree a core group of key professionals and decide whether to refer to a legal adviser for consideration of further Court action (WTSC 2010 5.84).
Where a child has suffered significant harm or is likely to in the future, it is the local authority’s duty to consider the evidence and decide what, if any legal action to take. The information presented to the child protection conference should inform the decision making process but it is for the local authority to consider whether it should initiate care proceedings (see WTSC 2010 5.103)
The purpose of a Review CPC is to review decisions where a child has been subject to a child protection plan.
- Review decisions made at Initial CPC
- Review progress of the plan
- Consider all new information available
- Decide whether the child’s name should remain subject to a child protection plan
The purpose of a Pre-birth CPC is to decide whether there are serious professional concerns about the likelihood of harm through abuse or neglect following the birth.
The purpose of a Transfer CPC is to consider whether there are serious professional concerns about the likelihood of harm through abuse or neglect of a child who has been subject to a child protection plan and who moves from one local authority to another.
Provision of Reports
All relevant information must be shared with parents and, as appropriate, children, prior to and at the CPC:
- Professionals must be aware that failure to share information available to them which leads to harm to a child will be viewed as a serious neglect of their duty to protect children
- Each agency invited to the CPC will submit a typed report using the appropriate format, detailing involvement with the child and significant adults in the child’s life
- Prior to CPC each agency will ensure effective communication to the family, and where appropriate the child, of the information they will be providing in reports
- All information, other than restricted information, contained in reports will be shared openly with the parents, and as appropriate, the child during CPC
Expectations of Professionals
- Every agency invited to attend a CPC is expected to be represented
- All attendees will remain until all decision making is complete (Case Conferences usually last between 1-1½ hours and professionals must allow sufficient time for their attendance and full participation)
- Agencies must ensure that their representative is fully informed and able to bring all relevant information to the CPC, including relevant information about parents and significant adults
- You will be asked to consider all the information shared at the CPC and form an opinion about the risk to the child and whether the child should be subject to a child protection plan
- A decision to make the child subject to a child protection plan is made by consensus or the majority view of professionals at the meeting. Where there is a split decision, the final decision rests with the conference chair. Where there is an imbalance of agencies or a split decision the chair will use a casting vote
- You may be expected to become part of a core group and have a role in the child protection plan. If you are a member of the core group you are expected to attend core group meetings
- The core group has responsibility for developing, implementing and reviewing the child protection plan ensuring the welfare of the child remains paramount
- The first meeting of the core group should take place within 10 working days of the initial child protection conference. The core group will then meet at least every 6-8 weeks
- It is your responsibility to check the accuracy of the CPC minutes and make comment
- If you do not agree with the decision of a CPC or core group and cannot resolve this with the chair you should use the escalation policy contained in these procedures. This section will be updated when regulations on the revision of Local Authority Complaints Procedures under the Children Act 1989 are revised