Child protection conferences
In Kent we are committed to continually improving the experience of all children and families we work with through their journey with Integrated Children's Services. Our new approach to child protection conferencing and planning is called 'Stronger families, safer children'. This has been informed by national research, discussion with other local authorities around best practice, and local learning to inform and shape our Kent approach. Developing the approach has been an iterative process involving continual collaboration, testing and seeking feedback from families, practitioners and stakeholders.
The 'Stronger families, safer children' approach seeks to deliver a strength based, collaborative child protection conferencing experience for families, where children, young people, parents and carers feel listened to, included, and understand what agencies and social workers are going to do to help them make the changes needed.
Initial Child Protection Conferences
The local authority has the responsibility to make decisions about whether a child or young person is or is not at risk of significant harm. If it is agreed that the child or young person is at risk of harm then an Initial Child Protection Conference will be arranged. This is an opportunity for professionals to share what they are worried about with the family.
The overall purpose of the conference is to enable the family, professionals, and the child or young person, to plan how best to keep them safe. The allocated social worker will present a summary report detailing what professionals are worried about. The report will also include wishes and feelings of the child or young person, and the views of the parents/carers. Professional judgement may be made about how likely the child or young person is to be harmed in the future. In these circumstances a Child Protection Plan will be agreed with all those in attendance and reviewed regularly at a Child Protection Review Conference.
The conference is chaired by an Independent Child Protection Conference Chair who are independent of the child or young person's case and not involved in the day to day management of social work staff. It is the Chair's job to ensure that the conference is conducted in the best interest of the child or young person.
Kent Integrated Children's Services are responsible for arranging the conference. All meetings will be conducted in accordance with the Kent and Medway safeguarding children procedures.
Parents / carers will be invited to attend and participate in the conference. Positive consideration will be given to enabling older children to participate in the conference if they wish to do so. Parents/carers are encouraged to submit a report for the conference.
All professional contributors to the conference are expected to provide a written report of their involvement with the child and family.
Tools to help families understand and prepare for a conference
Research had told us parents often feel they are not given enough information about the child protection process and do not have enough time to read and reflect on reports. Parents also want better relationships with social workers and receive respect and professionalism from all those working with their family. Children and young people too have told us they want to understand what is happening and have time to get to know and trust those who are working with them.
Within the 'Stronger families, safer children' approach we recognise the importance of explaining this to families and have developed the following resources:
- Child Protection Conference guide - leaflet for parents and carers: this leaflet tells parents and carers why a Child Protection Conference is being held, how they can participate and what happens at a Child Protection Conference. View Child Protection Conference guide - leaflet for parents and carers.
- Child Protection Conference leaflet for children and young people aged 11+: this leaflet is for older children and young people and outlines why a Child Protection Conference is being held, and how they can participate. View child protection information leaflet for children and young people aged 11+.
- Child Protection Conference leaflet for children aged 7-11 years: this leaflet is for children and young people and outlines why a Child Protection Conference is being held, and how they can participate. View child protection information leaflet for children aged 7-11 years.
- Video clip explaining Child Protection Conferences: the video offers an an alternative format to share with children and families about what a Child Protection Conference is and what will happen at the meeting. View Child Protection Conference video.
Child Protection Review Conference
When a Child Protection Plan is agreed, progress will be monitored by a regular review process. This will include Core Group meetings and Child Protection Review Conferences.
Decisions about continuing plans will be based on what professionals and the family remained worried about. If the decision is made that a child or young person no longer requires a Child Protection Plan, this does not mean that local services for the child or young person will be discontinued. Further support can be agreed as part of a Child in Need Plan.
All meetings will be conducted in accordance with the Kent and Medway Safeguarding children procedures.
To help provide information for a Child Protection Conference which you have been invited to attend, please complete the relevant report.
To help prepare professionals and parents/carers for a Child Protection Conference, the Integrated Children's Services have published copies of the Initial and Review Conference agenda templates.
If you would like to provide feedback about a Child Protection Conference you have attended, please use the online form below:
Statement of confidentiality
The statement of confidentiality states how information for Child Protection Conferences is securely shared with relevant professionals. It also explains how information is stored.
We hope our 'Stronger families, safer children' approach will create an environment which enables open and detailed discussions within conferences in which consensus can be reached regarding next steps. We recognise that at times professionals do not agree with the outcome of conferences. Where this is the case, professionals should be encouraged to follow the Resolving Professional Disagreements and the Escalation of Professional Concerns policy.