4.12 Child Protection Review Conferences
- 1. Booking a Review Conference
- 2. Purpose
- 3. Frequency
- 4. Reports
- 5. Attendance
- 6. Administration
- 7. Outcomes
- 8. Recording of Review Conferences
- 9. Roles and Responsibilities of the Team Manager and Lead Social Worker when the Child Protection Plan Cannot be Implemented
- 10. Role of the Local Authority Solicitor at Child Protection Conferences
1. Booking a Review Conference
The Safeguarding Children Unit Admin Team will contact the Lead Social Worker via email six weeks before the conference date in order for the Lead Social Worker to duly complete/amend the SCS91 and then return to the Safeguarding Children Unit Admin Team so that they can send out the invitations at least one month before the conference date. If the SCS91 is not received by the Safeguarding Children Unit Admin Team after the first request, they will refer the delay to the Social Worker's manager.
The purpose of a Child Protection Review Conference is to:
- Receive the completed assessment from the Core Group at the first review (within 3 months of the Initial Child Protection Conference);
- Review the safety, health and development of the child against planned outcomes set out in the Child Protection Plan and an Assessment;
- Ensure that the measures put in place to safeguard the child continue to be effective and appropriate;
- Consider the child's wishes and feelings;
- Bring together and analyse information about the child's health, development and functioning and the parent's capacity to ensure the child's safety and promote her/his welfare;
- Consider whether the Child Protection Plan should continue in place or be changed and set desired outcomes and timescales;
- Examine the current level of risk;
- Determine the need for further assessment;
- Check that inter-agency co-ordination is functioning effectively;
- Make judgements about the likelihood of the child suffering Significant Harm in the future;
- Consider if discontinuing the Child Protection Plan is appropriate.
The conference must consider all the children in the household, even if concerns are only being expressed about one child.
The Child Protection Review Conference must decide explicitly if the child has suffered, or is likley to suffer Significant Harm and hence whether the Child Protection Plan needs to be continued.
If the Child Protection Plan continues, the category of abuse or neglect must be re-considered.
If the Child Protection Plan is discontinued, the conference must consider what support may benefit the child and family and who is responsible for providing that support.
Except in relation to newborn children - see Pre-Birth Child Protection Procedure, the first Child Protection Review Conference must be held within 10 weeks of the date of the Initial Child Protection Conference.
Further reviews must be held at intervals of not more than 5 months, for as long as the child remains subject to a Child Protection Plan.
Where an unborn child is made subject to a Child Protection Plan at a Pre-Birth Conference, the first Review Conference must be scheduled to take place within 4 weeks of the child's birth or 10 weeks after the Initial Child Protection Conference, whichever is the sooner. This may be extended by up to 2 months with the written authorisation of a Surrey Children's Services manager and the Conference Chair if information from a post-natal assessment is crucial for a well-informed Review Conference.
If a sibling also becomes subject to a Child Protection Plan, the next conference must be held within 10 weeks of the conference where the decision regarding the sibling was made. This conference must consider all the children in the family and create a new Child Protection Plan.
An early Review Conference must be convened in the following circumstances:
- If there is a further incident or allegation of Significant Harm to a child who is subject to a Child Protection Plan;
- If the Child Protection Plan is failing to protect the child or of there are significant difficulties in carrying out the plan;
- When a child is to be born into the household of a child who is subject of a Child Protection Plan;
- When a person considered to be a risk to children is to join or commences regular contact with the household;
- When 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;
- When a Looked After child is subject to a Child Protection Plan and consideration is being given to returning the child to the circumstances where care of the child required a Child Protection Plan (unless this step is anticipated in the existing protection plan);
- When the Core Group believe that an early discontinuation of the Child Protection Plan should be considered;
- If the previous conference was inquorate.
See also guidance on Working With Uncooperative / Non Compliant Parents/Carers While Safeguarding Children and Working With Violent And Abusive Families While Safeguarding Children (which are accessible via the 'Guidance & Protocols' button at the top left hand side of the page).
The Lead Social Worker must provide to the conference a typed, signed and dated written report including a chronology of significant events, which must be endorsed and counter signed by her/his manager.
Information on all children in the household must be provided and the report must be clear about which children are the subjects of the 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.
The conference will require as part of the written report:
- Co-ordination by the Lead Social Worker of contributions by Core Group members, commissioned pieces of work and parental views;
- An evaluation of the progress made in reducing the risk to the child during the period of the Child Protection Plan;
- At the first Review, a copy of the full Assessment, together with any specialist assessments that have been commissioned, an analysis of the assessment findings and recommendations for the Child Protection Plan;
- A view from the Core Group as to whether or not the Child Protection Plan should continue;
- Full details (including dates) of contact by the Lead Social Worker with the child.
The report must be provided to parents and older children (to the extent that it is believed to be in their interests) at least 10 working days before 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 when confidential information cannot be shared with the child or parent(s) beforehand, the Lead Social Worker must seek guidance from her/his manager, who may wish to consult the Conference Chair.
When necessary, the report must be translated into the relevant language or medium, taking account of the preferred language and any sensory or learning difficulties of the child/parents.
The report must be provided to the Conference Chair at least 5 working days in advance of the Review Conference.
Attendees should include those most involved with the child and family in the same way as at an Initial Child Protection Conference.
The Safeguarding Children Unit will administer all Child Protection Review Conferences in the same way as for Initial Child Protection Conferences, including providing Conference Chairs, the sending of invitations (other than to parents and children) and completion of the record of the conference (see Section 8, Recording of Review Conferences. The Lead Social Worker must arrange the venue, advise parents, children and foster carers, and will have the same responsibilities as a Social Worker prior to an Initial Child Protection Conference - see Initial Child Protection Conferences Procedure.
Each Child Protection Review Conference must set the date for the next review and note this date in the minutes.
If a Child Protection Review Conference decides to discontinue a Child Protection Plan, the parents must be informed in person, if present at the meeting, and in writing by the Conference Chair.
Any dissenting views or disagreements with a decision to discontinue a Child Protection Plan the child must be recorded in the minutes.
Every Child Protection Review Conference must consider explicitly whether the child continues to be 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.
Discontinuing the Child Protection Plan must never lead to the automatic withdrawal of services and the Child Protection Review Conference can recommend that services should continue to remain available to the child/family as a Family Action Plan.
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 Family Action Plan made if support continues.
After the discontinuation of a Child Protection Plan the Family Action Plan will be reviewed.
8. Recording of Review Conferences
The record of the Review Conference must be prepared, authorised by the Chair and distributed in the same way as for Initial Child Protection Conferences - see Section 23, Record Keeping of Child Protection Conferences of the Initial Child Protection Conferences.
The record, signed by the Conference Chair, must be sent to all those professionals who attended or were invited to the conference, within 10 working days of the conference and within 15 working days to the family. Any amendments must be received within one week of receipt.
The record for Review Conferences must contain the following information:
- Name, date of birth, ethnicity and address of the subject/s of the conference, parents/carers and other adults in the household;
- Who was invited, who attended the conference and who submitted their apologies;
- A list of written reports available to conference and whether open to parents or not;
- The reason for the conference;
- Progress of the Child Protection Plan;
- A summary / update of the Assessment;
- Views and wishes of each child;
- Views of parents / carers;
- The Conference Chair's summary of information, analysis of risk and protective factors;
- Opinions of agencies on risk and the continuing need for a Child Protection Plan;
- Decision on the continuing need for a Child Protection Plan, with information outlining the reasons, including continued category of abuse or neglect;
- An outline Child Protection Plan, if child continues to require it or any Family Action Plan if the Child Protection Plan is discontinued;
- Confirmation of name of Lead Social Worker if the Child Protection Plan continues;
- Members of the Core Group if the Child Protection Plan continues;
- Date of next review.
See also Pre-Birth Child Protection Procedure.
9. Roles and Responsibilities of the Team Manager and Lead Social Worker when the Child Protection Plan Cannot be Implemented
If the Lead Social Worker (or other agencies involved) is unable to implement the Plan, the Lead Social Worker must inform her/his manager. This will include any situation where the Lead Social Worker is denied access to the children concerned, or is unable to carry out the agreed visiting pattern.
An immediate safe enough plan must be put in place and the Lead Social Worker must inform in writing the Conference Chair, conference participants and the family.
The Team Manager must ensure that the Core Group is convened at the earliest opportunity in order to consider the implications of this and to decide whether to call an early child protection review conference.
The Team Manager must inform the relevant Service Manager and the Service Manager, Safeguarding Children Unit of such cases in writing, with reasons.
10. Role of the Local Authority Solicitor at Child Protection Conferences
Where it is envisaged that the Surrey Children's Services would be seeking legal action as part of the Child Protection Plan, a meeting must be held involving a solicitor from the Child Care Legal Team, the ATM and the Social Worker before the Child Protection Conference, in order that these matters can be addressed and can inform the Child Protection Plan accordingly at the child protection conference.
The solicitor may still be invited to the Child Protection Conference to consider any other information that is shared at the conference, including any contribution from the parents and to decide whether or not that affects the legal advice to be given prior to the conference.
Solicitors may also attend to inform and advise the conference:
- Of what legal proceedings have already been started by the Surrey Children's Services;
- Of the significance of legal action already taken involving the child or the legal status of the child;
- On whether there is sufficient evidence to justify a decision to make a child subject to a Child Protection Plan;
- On what the Courts would consider to be reasonable expectations of the agencies or the families in the establishment of a Child Protection Plan;
- On whether a decision that the child requires a Child Protection Plan would be vulnerable to a judicial review.
The Local Authority solicitor is not permitted (by the rules of professional conduct governing solicitors) to give legal advice in the presence of the family members, parents, children, other family members and supporters and they must therefore be asked to leave whilst such advice is given.
Children's Guardians will be invited to remain as they have access under Section 42 Children Act 1989 to all Surrey Children's Services files, including legal advice given by Local Authority solicitors.
In order to ensure that the solicitor is in a position to provide the appropriate advice s/he may need to ask questions during the conference of conference members. This can be done while the parents are present, although the solicitors' professional conduct rules prohibit solicitors from using their professional position to take unfair advantage of parents or children.
It would therefore not normally be appropriate for the solicitors to ask questions directly of the parents involved but to raise matters that in her/his view have not been sufficiently covered with the Conference Chair in order that the Chair can address these matters.
As the Local Authority solicitor is there to give legal advice, s/he is not asked for a view on whether the child should be subject to a Child Protection Plan, although in some cases there may be an issue about whether there is sufficient evidence to justify the decision.
In this instance the Chair may seek advice about this issue and the solicitor may also need to assist the Chair in referring to relevant parts of the child protection procedures or 'Working Together' or the 'Challenge of Partnership.' It should be noted that in exceptional cases the Local Authority solicitor might need to give such advice spontaneously.