What is a Child Protection Conference?

Posted on: 3 mins read
Patricia Cannon

Head of Family and Childcare

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A Child Protection Conference is a meeting that takes place between parents and professionals about a child’s wellbeing and to discuss what can be done to ensure their safety and development in the future.

Under the section 47 of the Children Act 1989, a Child Protection Conference may be arranged in these circumstances:

  • Where there has been an investigation into concerns surrounding harm to a child
  • When there is reason to believe that your child is suffering, or is likely to suffer significant harm

If you’ve been invited to attend a Child Protection Conference, you’ll probably have many questions about what the meeting will involve. In this article, we’ve broken down what happens, who will attend, as well as how a Care Proceedings Solicitor could help you.

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Read on to find out more or get in touch with our expert Care Proceedings team for advice on your individual situation.

What Happens at a Child Protection Conference?

A Child Protection Conference will be led by the Conference Chair – a qualified social worker – who will go through the reports that will be shared in the meeting and answer any questions you may have.

At the beginning of the conference, everyone present will be introduced so that you’ll know who is in attendance and what their involvement will be. Each of the professionals at the conference will then take it in turns to share their thoughts and any concerns they may have regarding the child.

There will be opportunities for anyone to ask questions, including parents. If your child is present, they will also have a chance to express their opinions about the situation.

After discussing any worries or changes that will need to be made, the professionals present will make a final decision as to whether a Child Protection Plan is needed. Alternatively, if there is already a Child Protection Plan in place, they will decide if this should continue.

What if it’s Decided my Child Needs a Protection Plan? 

If it’s determined that a Child Protection Plan is required, this will be put into writing and will set out:

  • Who the key worker will be (typically the social worker)
  • A list of concerns and why any change needs to happen
  • What will need to be done to address the concerns
  • The needs your child has and how they can be met
  • Your needs as a parent and the support that can be put in place
  • An initial timeframe for changes to be implemented
  • The individual responsibilities of all people involved

After this, you’ll meet with a smaller core group of professionals regularly to further develop the plan and discuss the progress that’s been made.

Do I Have to Attend the Conference as a Parent?

In most cases, parents and carers will be encouraged to attend a Child Protection Conference. You’ll have the option to bring an advocate with you who could be a friend, family member or legal professional.   A legal representative can attend the Initial Child Protection Conference with you and the Conference Chair will need to be notified of their attendance before the meeting.

Other people attending the conference might include:

  • Social workers
  • Healthcare professionals who have worked with your child – this could be a doctor or health visitor
  • The police
  • A teacher from your child’s school
  • Any other professionals with relevant information about your child

Where appropriate, your child might also be invited to the meeting to give their views. They can also bring with them an advocate to help them express their opinions and wishes.

If it’s decided that it will be harmful for the child to attend in person, they will have the option to write their thoughts in a letter to be read at the conference.

How Could a Solicitor Help?

If you’ve been invited to a Child Protection Conference, you might understandably be feeling worried and overwhelmed by what the outcome could be. Our Care Proceedings Solicitors are specialists in this area of law and can provide legal advice that will help you to feel prepared at each stage of the process.

We can also offer representation at Child Protection Conferences, so you’ll have comfort in the knowledge that a legal expert is by your side to advise you.

Depending on your financial circumstances, you could be entitled to Legal Aid from the government. We’ll advise you on whether you’re eligible for this support and complete all the relevant paperwork for you.

Get in touch with our experienced Care Proceedings team today for initial advice.

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