Child Protection Case Conferences
Child Protection Case Conferences
A Child Protection Case Conference is a multi-disciplinary meeting at which information, assessments and chronologies relevant to concerns about abuse, or risk of abuse, are shared and considered and decisions are made regarding the future protection of children.
Criteriafor Arranging Child Protection Case Conferences (CPCC)
Norrie (2013) emphasises that significant risk is a judgement to be made but the concern cannot be minor, transient or of a superficial nature. It may be physical, emotional or developmental; currently being experienced or there is a reasonableness to suspect it may occur due to past events. Whilst there is not an expectation that consideration of calling a CPCC meets the criteria of significance and immediacy required for a Child Protection Order, it is a high level decision and registering a child should not been done without reflection on whether a less intrusive measure (e.g. Child Wellbeing Meeting ) could achieve a better outcome.
A CPCC may be arranged following a Child Protection Investigation or an assessment indicating serious concern where:
- It appears there may be significant risks to child(ren) within a household or being cared for by a person about whom concerns have been raised andthere is a need to share and assess concerning information;
- There is a need to clarify and confirm the risks and level of risk to each child in a household;
- There is evidence to suggest a child has been non accidentally injured or abused;
- There is a need to consider formulating a multi-agency Child Protection Plan, and to clarify the roles and tasks of key agency personnel;
- When a child from another Local Authority moves permanently to Fife and was on the originating authority’s Child Protection Register.
Any agency may request that an initial or review CPCC be convened. The Social Work Service is responsible on behalf of partners for responding to such requests. Such requests for conferences from other agencies should be submitted in writing to the relevant Social Work Team Manager. The Team Manager will act to arrange a conference unless there are clear reasons why such action is deemed inappropriate and such reasons have been discussed with their appropriate Service Manager. The reasons for not convening a case conference will be put in writing to the person making the request within 20 working days. If the staff member in any agency is unhappy with the reasons given and the decision they should pursue this through their own management structure.
Social Work’s Reviewing Service are responsible for chairing all Fife’s Initial, Transfer and Review CPCC’s and ensuring all children’s registration details are recorded on Fife’s Child Protection Register immediately following the Case Conference.
There are four types of case conference. Children and their families must be encouraged to participate meaningfully in the meeting and their views must be shared. A pre-conference meeting between the Chairperson and the child plus his / her supporter / advocate may help to make the child feel central to the process. A similar meeting may be arranged with the parents.
Initial Child Protection Case Conference (ICPCC) which should be arranged within 15 working days from the conclusion of an investigation or decision by Team Manager that a meeting is required.
The pre-birth ICPCC should take place no later than at 28 weeks pregnancy or, in the case of late notification of pregnancy, as soon as possible after the notification of concern and in any case within 15 working days.
The Review Case Conference which is arranged within 3 months of the initial meeting and within 6 months thereafter.
Transfer Case Conference which will be arranged within 20 working days of the request from the other Local Authority to transfer a child who is on their Child Protection Register. These cases will be reviewed within 3 months and 6 months thereafter. There is a national agreement that all children transferring in to a new authority will be subject to an initial period of registration.
Children and their families must be encouraged to participate meaningfully in the meeting and their views must be shared. A pre-conference meeting between the Chairperson and the child plus his / her supporter / advocate may help to make the child feel central to the process. A similar meeting may be arranged with the parents. All participants should maintain an outcome-focussed approach and
- Assess the degree of existing risk and likely future risks to the child;
- Ensure that all relevant information held by each service or agency has been shared and analysed on an inter-agency basis;
- Ensure that the child and their families views are taken into consideration at the conference;
- Identify the child’s needs and how these can be met by services and agencies;
- Develop and review the Child’s Plan;
- Confirm specific areas of concern relating to the protection of a child;
- Decide whether or not to place the child’s name on the Child Protection Register, or to retain or remove the child’s name;
- Where it is agreed that a child is at risk of significant harm and that their name should be placed on the Child Protection Register, those attending the CPCC are responsible for developing and agreeing a Child’s Plan and identifying the core group of staff responsible for implementing, monitoring and reviewing the plan. The Lead Professional who has a coordinating role in the plan should also be identified at this meeting. The Lead Professional will be the allocated social worker for the child and family.
- Consider the use of compulsory measures of supervision and whether it is appropriate to refer the child to the Children’s Reporter, if this has not already been done;
- Notify other agencies if a child moves to another area.
The Chairperson should ensure that participants' contributions clearly distinguish between fact, observation, allegation and opinion.
The decision to place a child’s name on the Child Protection Register will be made at a CPCC by consensus. If agreement cannot be reached, in exceptional circumstances, the chairperson will assess the contributions made by the attendees and make a judgement on whether registration is in the child’s best interests or not. In these situations the chairperson must refer the matter to their Service Manager following the meeting.
Registration is a statement of continuing significant concern, not just a statement that abuse is believed to have occurred. A decision should be made to place a child's name on the Register if a child's continuing safety and welfare are placed in jeopardy by an unacceptable level ofsignificant risk, which can only be reduced or eliminated by establishing a multi-agency Child’s Plan.
Disagreement with the decision to place a child’s name on the Child Protection Register does not absolve individual agencies from the responsibility to contribute to the agreed Child’s Plan.
When a Review CPCC agrees that the level of risk has been reduced by such a degree that there is no longer significant concern due to improvement/change in the child/family circumstances, the child’s name should be removed from the Register. It may be necessary for the child or family to continue to work with a number of services beyond de-registration and to continue to be subject to a Child’s Plan (see post deregistration meeting).
If a child registered within another Authority is transferring to Fife on a permanent basis, a representative from the original area must attend. The child will remain on the Register until it is assessed that the risk has been reduced and they are assessed to be no longer at significant risk.
Report Requirements for Case Conference
The participants need to take account of the circumstances leading to the CPCC and the initial risk assessment. Due to the timescales for calling an Initial CPCC, there may only be time for an interim risk management plan; a more comprehensive risk assessment may still need to be carried out after the CPCC. In some instances, there will already be a multi-agency Child’s Plan in place and this will need to be considered in light of the concerns about the child. However, on many occasions the first Child’s Plan may be based on limited information and therefore an incomplete assessment. The first Child’s Plan should be subject to monitoring through the core group process and subsequent Review CPCC’s, however any significant changes to the plan should only be agreed at a case conference.
The family, including the child when appropriate, should have a copy of the Social Work Report and the opportunity to discuss it with the author at least 24 hours before the meeting. All other agencies are required to share the content of their report with the child and/or family with the exception of Police Scotland.
The Chairperson and allocated Social Worker should receive a copy of all reports 48 hours prior to the conference presented in the correct report format.
Guidance on Children Attending their CPCC
Children’s interests must be paramount throughout the process of CPCCs.
Children have a right to attend as opposed to a duty or obligation; they should have an informed choice.
The decision on whether or not to invite a child to a CPCC held in respect of them will depend on
- their age and understanding;
- the potential for them to suffer undue distress in the conference; this distress may be caused by the nature of the information being discussed or by potential conflict with their parents which could severely inhibit their participation in the meeting. In such cases it may be necessary to consider who has the primary right to attend – the child or the parents?
Preparation of children is vital. This will include use of a leaflet explaining to the child the purpose and process of the meeting, the possible outcomes, information on who will attend, and what might be expected of the child at the meeting. The use of a leaflet must be in addition to individual preparation of the child by the Social Worker including speaking to the child about the content of their report.
In each case, the Social Worker and Chairperson should consult prior to the conference on the desirability of the child(ren) being present. Care arrangements should be considered for very young children who may attend with their parents.
The child may need a clearly identified supporter / advocate at the meeting. This may be the Social Worker or someone else identified by the child. Fife Children’s Rights Service (FCRS) aim to ensure that all children aged 5 and above have access to advocacy as appropriate at CPCCs.
Attendance of professionals
The number of people involved in a CPCC should be limited to those with a need to know or those who have a relevant contribution to make. All people invited to a CPCC need to understand its purpose, functions and the relevance of their particular contribution. This may include a support person or advocate for the child and/or family. In general the balance has to be struck between being able to address the issues which generated the meeting and trying to make the meeting as non-threatening and comfortable as possible for the child and family.
Invitations will be extended to the child (unless this is felt to be inappropriate), the child’s parents, the Social Worker and Social Work Team Manager and all other agency personnel who can contribute to the assessment of risk and to the future plan of action.
Invitations may be sent to any of the following (this list is not intended to be exhaustive):
- Named Person
- Lead Professional
- Link Social Worker (for foster carers)
- Social Worker
- Team Manager
- Parents’ legal representative
- School Nurse
- Addiction Services
- General Practitioner
- Voluntary organisation representative
- School/Nursery representative
- Housing Providers
- Advocacy Worker
The presence of observers should only be agreed in exceptional circumstances and must be approved beforehand by the Chairperson and Social Worker, with the consent of the child and parents, if present.
Invitations will be issued as early as possible for Initial CPCCs. For Review CPCCs all attendees at the Initial CPCCs will receive a reminder to attend 3 weeks prior to the review date. Any additional services or individuals identified as having a necessary interest or involvement in the continued care of the child will also be invited at this time. With the aim of achieving the best possible outcome for the child or young person, practitioners should consider their attendance at the CPCC as a priority.
Attendance by Parents/Carers
Parents/carers will generally be invited to attend all conferences. Parents/carers must be given sufficient notice of the date of the conference, which should be arranged at a time convenient for them to attend. Practitioners providing reports for the CPCC must inform parents/carers about the contents of their reports, unless this would increase risk to the child. A member of staff, usually the Lead Professional or Social Worker, should be identified to explain the process in advance and advise the parents/carers regarding their involvement in the conference. They should be given a leaflet to explain the conference aims, objectives and procedures. It is acknowledged that in some circumstances it may be appropriate to engage an interpreter. Parents may be assisted by the presence of a support person or an advocate.
Parents/carers who are reported to have abused their children should be invited to attend all conferences unless there are specific reasons why they should be excluded. For example:
- where the need for legal proceedings is clear before the conference and attendance of parents/carers may prejudice their legal position (e.g. bail conditions or police investigation still continuing);
- where the attendance of parents/carers might seriously disrupt the conduct of the conference;
- where it is deemed not to be in the best interests of the child.
Any objection regarding parent/carer participation should be raised with the Social Worker and Chairperson prior to the commencement of the conference. The Chairperson will decide whether a degree of exclusion is appropriate. If the Chairperson decides to exclude the parent/carer, the reason must be clearly recorded in the minute of the conference. Should the parent/carer not find the explanation acceptable, they should be given the opportunity to discuss the matter with theChairperson at a suitable time. If they remain dissatisfied with the response, they should be advised how to pursue their complaint through the Service’s complaints procedure.
The best interests of the child must remain the objective focus of a conference and care must be taken not to allow the parents’/carers’ needs to override those of the child.
The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 places the Child’s Plan on a statutory basis and a Child’s Plan must be instigated in all cases where a targeted intervention is required to address a wellbeing need for a child between the ages of 0 and 18yrs, including where a child is at risk of significant harm and is on the child protection register.
When a conference decides to place a child's name on the Child Protection Register, a Child’s Plan must be agreed by the conference to reduce the risk to the child and provide support to the child and family.
Clarity and detail must be provided relating to the roles and responsibilities of the various people involved in the Plan, including agency staff and family members.
There may be circumstances (e.g. where the child is looked after ) where a Child’s Plan including an element of protection is created for the child and family, but where the child's name is not placed on the register.
Afterthe Child Protection Case Conference
Following the CPCC, consideration should be given to the Chairperson providing a debriefing for the child and their supporter to ensure the child fully understands what has happened in terms of the decisions, the outcome of the meeting and what happens next.
All CPCCs must be minuted and recorded with the minutes and Child’s Plan completed and distributed to the relevant participants within five working days of the meeting.
Minutes should be completed within five working days of the meeting and distributed to the relevant participants. Parents will normally receive a copy of the full minutes unless there is a specific reason not to do so (e.g. in respect of third party information), in which case parents should be informed in writing of the conference decisions and their implications.
The Chairperson should ensure that participants' contributions clearly distinguish between fact, observation, allegation and opinion, and that these distinctions are reflected in the conference minutes.
Participants at recent multi agency training will have been directed to this page where you will find some addtional information on case conferences in the publications listed below.