1.9 Child Protection Review Conferences
AMENDMENTIn April 2019, minor amendments were made to reflect local practice and terminology.
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 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. See also Initial Child Protection Conferences Procedure.
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 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 can the Child Protection Plan be discontinued by the original local authority. See also Children and Families Moving Across Local Authority 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's file.
However it would not be good practice to seek to discontinue the Child Protection Plan at the first review conference, except in exceptional circumstances e.g. a court order is in place or there is clear evidence that a perpetrator has permanently left the family home.
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 Initial 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.
Non co-operation with the Child Protection Plan is not a valid reason for removal of a child's name from the list. In these circumstances, further advice should be sought, for example from the legal department or from the Safeguarding Children Service Manager. See Working Effectively with Resistance, Obstacles and Hostility to Engagement Procedure.
A child who no longer requires a Child Protection Plan may still be in need of additional support and services. Discontinuation of a Child Protection Plan should never lead to the automatic withdrawal of help. An outline Child In Need plan will be drawn up at the last Child Protection Conference.
- Except in relation to bullet point 3 below, the first Review Conference should be held within 3 months (93 days) of the date of the Initial Child Protection Conference;
- Further reviews must be held at intervals of not more than 6 months (180 days), for as long as the child requires a Child Protection Plan;
- 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 3 months of the initial conference or within one month of the child's birth, whichever is the sooner;
- An early Review Conference should be considered in the following circumstances:
- Where there is a further incident or allegation of Significant Harm to a child with a Child Protection Plan;
- If the Child Protection Plan is failing to protect the child or if there are significant difficulties in carrying out the Plan;
- 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;
- Where the previous Conference was inquorate.
The Lead Social Worker should provide a typed, signed and dated written report using the relevant Pro Forma, which 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 Conference will require as part of a written report:
- Co-ordination by the Lead Social Worker of contributions by Core Group members, commissioned pieces of work and parental views;
- The Children's wishes and feelings;
- An evaluation of the progress made in reducing the risk to the child whilst the subject of a Child Protection Plan;
- At the first Review, an analysis of the full assessment findings together with any specialist assessments that have been commissioned, and recommendations for the Child Protection Plan;
- A view from the Core Group as to whether or not the child continues to need a Child Protection Plan.
The report should be provided to parents and children where appropriate 2 working days before the Review Conference 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.
The report should be provided to the Conference Chair at least 2 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 2 working days in advance of the Review Conference.
Attendees should include the Chair and Core Group members.
Quoracy - In general a review conference should only proceed when representatives from Children's Social Care and at least two other agencies or professional groups who have had direct contact with the child and family are present. In exceptional circumstances, where a child has not had relevant contact with three agencies (e.g. Children's Social Care and two others) the Conference Chair may decide that this minimum quorum can be breached.
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 Quality Assurance and Involvement Service will be responsible for the preparation of the record (see Section 9, Records). 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 Initial Child Protection Conferences Procedure, Responsibilities of the Social Worker before the Conference.
Each Child Protection Review Conference will set the date for the next review and core group meeting and note this date in the record.
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 record.
Every Review should consider explicitly whether the child is still 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 Initial Child Protection Conference Procedure, The Decision Making Process.
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 and an outline Child in Need Plan will be drawn up at the end of the conference.
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.
see Initial Child Protection Conference Procedure, The Decision Making Process 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 practitioner concludes that a conference decision places a child at risk, s/he must seek advice from her/his Designated Practitioner or Named Practitioner or manager.
Where the issue is not resolved, the agency may consider taking action under the Effective Challenge and Escalation 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 Appeals about Child Protection Conferences Procedure.
The record of the conference is a crucial working document for all relevant practitioners and the family.
All conferences will have a record made 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 record of the conference will be sent to all practitioners who attended, or were invited and to relevant family members within 15 working days after the Conference
Copies of the record should be given to the parents and the child (if old enough) and the child's advocate, if appropriate by the Lead Social Worker.
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 record.
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 record will not be distributed to them unless they have a role in the Child Protection Plan and the conference agrees it appropriate.
Conference records 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.
Where there are ongoing criminal proceedings, there should be consultation between the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to the sharing of the records.
The recipient agencies and practitioners should retain the records of the Child Protection Conference in a manner which ensures their confidentiality and in accordance with their agencies record retention policy. Agencies should determine who it is appropriate to be given access to the records - usually this will be restricted to relevant staff, their manager and any person who has a role in the Child Protection Plan.
Subsequent requests for access to the records by practitioners who do not have a legal or direct role in the case should be referred to the Designated Manager (Children with a Child Protection Plan) or the Conference Chair.
Children (if of sufficient age and understanding) and/or parents on their behalf may have the right of access to their records held by the Children's Social Care. Access can be refused if it is likely to result in serious harm to some-one or on other limited grounds, but where the criteria for refusal do not apply, the Quality Assurance and Involvement Service will release the open access sections of the conference minutes without any further checks with practitioner colleagues. The closed access section of the minutes will not be released without full consultation with all parties and any disclosure will be in line with the data protection legislation.