What's required for a child protection conference?
Schools play a vital role in ensuring the most vulnerable children are safe and supported. They are invited to attend and contribute to a child protection conference as the school has direct knowledge of the child.
A child protection conference brings together family members (and the child or children where appropriate), supporters, advocates and those professionals most involved with the child and family to make decisions about the child's future safety, health and development. Initial child protection conferences must take place within 15 working days of the decision made to hold a conference on a child. If the child is made subject to a child protection plan, a review must take place within 3 months and 6 monthly thereafter until the child is removed from the plan.
There is an expectation that the school where the child attends will attend all initial conferences and subsequent reviews, present a report and contribute to the recommendations and the plan for that child.
You will receive an invitation to an initial child protection conference from the safeguarding children's team at least 7 working days prior to the conference. The invitation will be sent through the Perspective Lite secure portal and emailed to the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL).
Details of review child protection conferences can be found on the child protection plan following conference and will be communicated through core groups.
The multi-agency report form is the form to be completed for use in the conference.
The multi-agency form prepared for the conference should be:
- written by the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) and the staff member who has the most knowledge of the child and signed off by the DSL.
- any supporting evidence for conferences should be on school headed paper and authorised and signed.
- reports should be shared with parents, the child or young parent at least 2 working days prior to the conference and 5 working days prior to any review.
You should arrive at the conference 30 minutes prior to the start in order to share your report and read other agencies reports. You should also bring 10 copies of the report which should be taken to the conference by the representative.
When completing the multi-agency form:
- use the guidance from your organisation
- distinguish fact from opinion
- focus on the headings in the safety and wellbeing grid.
Important information to include with a focus on these headings:
- progress compared to other children in the cohort
- current concerns
- history of previous concerns
- engagement of the pupil or student and evidence of wishes and feelings
- engagement of parents and carers
- evidence of participation in meetings
- other only relevant information for the purpose of making decisions and creating any plans.
The conference has an agreed agenda and many schools use this and complete the safety and wellbeing grid prior to the conference to further assist them to focus on the concerns.
Young people, usually over the age of 13, can attend conferences and, where possible, they should be encouraged and schools can play an active role in supporting the child to attend. If children cannot or choose not to attend, a school can often be the better representative and can bring their views to conference. Children can also choose to write a letter, submit a recording or a pictorial statement.
The full information and all forms can be found in the reports form and templates area of the Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership procedure manual.