Child protection conferences
Child protection conferences - frequently asked questions
What is the purpose of a conference?
The reason for the meeting is to decide whether or not there's a risk to your safety. If the meeting decides that there's a serious risk to your safety, a plan will be put in place to ensure you're safe and properly cared for.
If the meeting decides there's not a serious risk to your safety, they might decide that your family needs some help and support, and could make a 'child in need plan'. The plan will be agreed by your parents/carers and all the professionals involved. This will ensure that everyone knows what they have to do to keep you safe. You'll also be given a copy of the plan.
Who will be at the conference?
If you're considered old enough and you want to be, you'll be invited. You may not be able to be present for the whole meeting, but the social worker and/or chair of the meeting will explain the reasons for this. You can have an adult friend, advocate or advisor with you if you wish. The social worker will talk to you about this.
- Your parents/carers will be invited, and they can bring a friend or legal representative with them if they wish
- Social workers
- Teacher/nursery staff
- Health workers such as health visitor, GP, hospital doctor, school nurse etc
- Police officer
- Other important people in your life may be there, eg youth worker, Connexions advisor
- You - your views about what's happening and what you would like to happen are really important. Talk to the social worker about ways you can make sure everyone involved knows what you want to happen
What will happen at the conference?
The point of the meeting is to make sure that all important matters about your safety are discussed, that everyone present has an opportunity to give their views and that careful decisions are made about how you and your family can be helped.
To ensure that everyone is treated with respect and everyone has a chance to give opinions without interruptions, a chairperson will lead the meeting. He/she will talk to you in private before the meeting and will explain what will happen, how you'll be involved and discuss any worries you may have. They'll do the same with your parents/carers.
People at the meeting will have reports they have written about you and your family. You will be given the parts of these reports which relate to you. This should be done to give you plenty of time to think about what they say.
How can my views be shared at the meeting?
You may feel worried about talking in front of a lot of people. The chair will do all they can to help you, and will not allow anyone to upset you in the meeting. They'll make sure you're treated with respect.
You may like to write down your thoughts and feelings, and the chair could read this for you. The social worker or someone else you trust could help you with this. An adult you trust - which may not be your parents/carers - could say something on your behalf.
If it's been decided that you shouldn't attend the meeting, or you don't wish to attend, it's important that people know what you think. It's also important that people know what you think needs to happen to keep you safe, and what should be in the plan to support you and your family.
A VOICE advocate can help you if:
- You want some help in saying the things you need to say, to those who make decisions about you
- If you're unhappy about the way you're being treated by social services or you're worried about plans being made, such as a move
- If you need information and advice and want to know your rights
An advocate can make sure you understand what people are saying, help you say what you want to say and make sure people listen to you. An advocate can be with you at meetings.
If you want to find out more about having an advocate then contact:
VOICE Helpline: 0808 800 5792
What is a child protection plan?
The plan will set out what's needed to ensure you're safe and properly cared for.
- It says what social care and all other agencies WILL do to help you and your family
- It says what you and your family can do to improve the situation
- The chair will make sure everyone understands what's expected of them
- If a plan is made a smaller group of people will meet regularly to make sure everyone does what they should to keep you safe. This is called a 'core group'. If people feel you can be involved in this, they'll talk to you and agree how you can contribute
- If a child in need plan is made there will still be regular meetings and you can be involved in these
Helpful information and contacts
An enquiry into your safety may be upsetting and stressful. To help with this, please try and keep the following in mind:
- Everyone involved will try to do their best for you and your family
- It can be helpful to talk to someone you trust who you know is sensible and will not talk to others about your business
You may also wish to contact any of the following organisations for advice and support: