This summarises the procedures that will be followed.
Stage 1 - assessment
If a referral to Children’s Social Care is made, it will usually be dealt with within 24 hours, having collected some key information about the concern or allegation. If it appears that the concern or allegation is founded a social worker will be asked to start an assessment, which could take up to 45 days, but may be completed very quickly (eg if it appears that a child is seriously at risk).
If there are serious risks to a child, it may be necessary to take immediate action to protect the child(ren) concerned. In extreme cases, this can result in children being temporarily cared for by a foster carer.
All referrals will be considered by a social worker in Children's Services, and an assessment may be conducted.
Stage 2 - child in need
The Child in Need team will assess whether a 'child in need plan' is required.
Stage 2 - strategy discussion
If it looks like abuse has happened or might happen, the social workers and others, like teachers or the police, will hold a meeting called a strategy discussion to decide whether a child protection enquiry is necessary (see the next stage).
Stage 3 - child protection enquiry
If an enquiry is started, this will involve a social worker and the police assessing the concerns or allegations. The child(ren) and parents will be involved in this process.
Stage 4 - initial child protection conference
At the end of the child protection enquiry, an 'initial child protection conference' will be conducted, chaired by an independent conference chair. Parents will be invited to this meeting
You have rights too...
If you're unhappy about any aspect of the meeting, you should talk to the chair of the meeting to discuss your views. If you feel you haven't been properly informed or involved, seek advice from a solicitor or relevant advice centre, or you can make a complaint. Ask your social worker or chair to explain the complaints process.