3.9 Child Protection Review Conferences

AMENDMENT

This chapter was revised and updated throughout in November 2015.  A new sub-section, De-Plan by Post was added to Section 2, Criteria for Discontinuing the Child Protection Plan.  A revised listing of documents the Lead Social Worker should provide to the Independent Chairperson five working days before a review conference was added at the beginning of Section 4, Reports.

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 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 suffering or likely to suffer 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.

2. 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 suffering or likely to suffer 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, only a Child Protection Review Conference can decide that the Child Protection Plan is no longer necessary;
  • 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 Children and Families Moving across Boundaries Procedure;
  • 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), 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.

De-Plan by Post:

In cases where children on a Child Protection Plan become subject to Care Orders; Interim Care Orders or become section 20, the Conference Chair may seek to remove the Child Protection Plan by post if considered appropriate.  The Conference Chair will write to relevant agencies recommending that the Child Protection Plan be removed due to the change in circumstances and that the child’s welfare will continue to be monitored through the Looked After Children (LAC) process.  If there are no objections received the Child Protection Plan will be removed.

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

The removal of a Child Protection plan by post should not be considered if the care plan is for the child to be returned home during the period between Child Protection conferences.

3. 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. 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 1 month of the child’s birth or within 3 months of the pre-birth conference whichever is the sooner;
    4. An early Review Conference should be considered in the following circumstances:
        1. Where there is a further incident or allegation of Significant Harm to a child with a Child Protection Plan;
        2. If the Child Protection Plan is failing to protect the child or if there are significant difficulties in carrying out the Plan;
        3. 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;
        4. Where the previous Conference was inquorate.

4. Reports

The Lead Social Worker should provide the following documents to the Independent Chairperson five working days before a review conference – Social Work report including within the assessment:

      • Update from assessment(s);
      • Outputs from mapping or use of any other SoS tool;
      • Child’s wishes and feelings, (may be shared separately via Advocate);
      • Danger statement(s);
      • Outcomes of existing safety goals and plan;
      • Proposed future safety goal(s);
      • Genogram;
      • Children’s Services Chronologies.

The social work report 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 report should be provided to parents and older children where appropriate 3 working daysbefore the Review Conferences 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 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.

The social worker’s report should be provided to the Conference Chair at least 5 working days in advance of the Review Conference.

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. Those unable to attend should forward a copy of this report to the Lead Social Worker.

All contributors should provide a written report to the Conference Chair at least 3 working days in advance of the Review Conference.

5. Attendance

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.

See Initial Child Protection Conferences Procedure.

6. Administration

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 Independent Chairing Service 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 Section 11, Responsibilities of the Social Worker before the Conference of Initial Child Protection Conferences Procedure.

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

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.

7. Outcomes

Every Review should consider explicitly whether the child continues to be suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm and therefore continues to need safeguarding through a formal Child Protection Plan.

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 Section 13.4, The Decision Making Process of Initial Child Protection Conference Procedure.

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 Protection Plan made if support continues.

It may be useful for regular meetings, such a 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.

8. Dissent from the Review Conference Decision

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.

Section 13.4, The Decision Making Process of Initial Child Protection Conference 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.

If a professional concludes that a conference decision places a child at risk, s/he must seek advice from her/his Designated Professional or Named Professional or manager.

Where the issue is not resolved, the agency may consider taking action under the Resolving Professional Disagreements Procedure.

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 and Appeals Procedure.

9. Minutes

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:

      1. Name, date of birth, ethnicity and address of the subject/s of the conference, parents/carers and other adults in the household;
      2. Who was invited, who attended the conference and who submitted their apologies;
      3. Any breaks in the conference and anyone leaving or joining the meeting;
      4. The reason for the conference;
      5. A list of written reports available to conference and whether open to parents or not;
      6. Progress of the Child Protection Plan;
      7. A summary/update of the Assessment;
      8. A summary of direct contacts with the child/ren;
      9. Views and wishes of each child;
      10. Views of parents/carers;
      11. Opinions of agencies on risks and protective factors and whether the child should continue to have a Child Protection Plan;
      12. 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;
      13. Any changes to the Child Protection Plan, if the child continues to require a Child Protection Plan, or a Child in Need Plan where appropriate;
      14. Confirmation of name of Lead Social Worker if child continues to have a Child Protection Plan;
      15. Members of the Core Group if child continues to have a Child Protection Plan and the date of the next Core Group meeting;
      16. 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 two working days.

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.

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