The child protection conference will identify the membership of a core group of professionals and family members who will develop and implement the child protection plan as a detailed working tool.
Membership should include the lead social worker, who will usually chair the group, the child if this is appropriate, family members and professionals or foster carers who will have direct contact with the child and their family, and who therefore have a key role to play.
Core groups are an important forum for working with parents, wider family members, and children of sufficient age and understanding. Engaging family members in working out the detail of the child protection plan can help to resolve tensions and issues for family members and in clarifying exactly the nature of concerns and their role in reducing those concerns. This also presents tensions and challenges.
Although the lead social worker has responsibility for forming and implementing the detailed child protection plan, all members of the core group are jointly responsible for carrying out the agreed tasks, monitoring their effectiveness, and refining the plan as necessary. The core group should also identify whether the plan is working, and if it is not, or key tasks are not being undertaken, the social worker must refer this back to their manager and potentially to a reconvened conference.
How to do it
The first meeting of the core group should happen within 10 working days of the initial child protection conference. The purpose of this first meeting will be to flesh out the outline child protection plan which was agreed at the conference, and to ensure that everyone is clear about their roles and responsibilities in carrying out the plan.
This will include deciding what steps need to be taken, by whom and by when, in order to complete the core assessment on time, so that services are truly matched to the identified needs and risks for the child, and future decisions are made on full information.
The chair, who is usually the lead social worker, will ensure that there is a record of actions and decisions agreed at the core group, as well as of the written views of those who were not able to attend.
As above, the first meeting should take place within 10 working days of the initial conference. Thereafter the frequency will be determined by the child protection plan, but they should be sufficiently frequent to ensure that good working relationships can be established and that the actions and outcomes against the plan are being carefully monitored and the plan updated as necessary to ensure the safety and welfare of the child.
Reference should also be made to local procedures which may impose specific time requirements.
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