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Child Protection Conferences. Caroline Alexander Service Coordinator for Child Protection. Background.

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child protection conferences

Child Protection Conferences

Caroline Alexander

Service Coordinator for Child Protection

  • The number of referrals has increased over the years, in Britain and internationally. This increase in referrals has caused a massive increase in workload, raising the importance of the first level of decision making about a referral.
  • Stats for 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 show that nationally, around 22-23% receive a core assessment and 6% become subject to child protection plans.
  • The pressure from rising numbers of referrals and the need for accountability have led most agencies to develop some guidelines on how to classify and respond to referrals.


  • Principles of the Social Care Eligibility Criteria in Surrey are clear and explicit – assessments and appropriate services are provided for level 4 and 3 cases.
level four categories
Level Four Categories
  • Children suffering actual or likely Significant Harm and disclosures of physical, sexual or emotional abuse
  • New referrals in cases of severe neglect
  • Very serious or chronic cases of domestic violence
  • Children in immediate danger or those who require immediate assessment to ascertain whether they need to be Looked After by the Local authority to ensure safeguarding
  • Children at risk due to actual or likely contact with persons who pose a risk to children and / or young people (e.g. convicted of causing harm to children; sex offenders register) or where there is an allegation made against a professional abusing a child or young person.
  • Children subject to a Child Protection Plan
level three categories
Level Three Categories
  • Children needing to be immediately looked after by someone other than their normal care giver
  • Pre-birth/post natal assessments where there are concerns for the safety or well being of the unborn / new born child
  • Children whose names have been removed from the Child Protection Register/where the Child Protection Plan has been discontinued but remain in need of ongoing targeted social care child in need services.
  • Children who self-harm, run away or whose behaviour places them at immediate risk
  • Young carers, where there is a need for a joint assessment with Adult Services to identify significant unmet need for either the child or parent.
  • 'Abandoned ' teenagers who are vulnerable as a result
trend and capacity
Trend and Capacity
  • August: 5119
  • September: 4763
  • October 5619
  • Education: 540
  • Health: 775
  • Police: 2475
  • Family: 512
  • Legal: 325
  • Other, Org: 667
  • As of 09/11/2012 there are 5598 open cases to Surrey Children Services.
significant harm
Significant Harm
  • There are no absolute criteria on which to rely when judging what constitutes Significant Harm but consideration should be given to the following:
  • The severity of ill-treatment which may include the degree and extent of physical harm including, for example, impairment suffered from seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another.
  • The duration and frequency of abuse and neglect
  • The extent of premeditation
strategy discussions and s47 enquiries
Strategy Discussions and S47 enquiries
  • Whenever there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer Significant Harm, there should be a Strategy Discussion/Meeting involving Children's Services and the Police, Health (Named Nurse and/or Named Doctor) and other bodies as appropriate (for example, children's centre/school , and in particular any referring agency.
purpose of the strategy meeting
Purpose of the strategy meeting
  • Share information
  • Agree the conduct and timing of any criminal investigation
  • Plan how the investigation will be undertaken
  • Plan what immediate action is required to safeguard the child/ren
  • Determine what information will be given to the family unless this will place the child at further risk or jeopardise a police investigation.
the risk assessment will
The risk assessment will:
  • Identify the cause for concern
  • Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the family
  • Evaluate the risks to the child or children
  • Consider the child's needs for protection
  • Consider the ability of the parents and wider family and social networks to safeguard and promote the child's welfare - this must include both parents, any other carers and the partners of the parents
  • Determine the level of intervention required both in the immediate and longer term.
the initial child protection conference
The Initial Child Protection Conference
  • Share and evaluate information in an inter-agency setting about the family history, child's health, development and functioning and the parent / carer's capacity to ensure the child's safety and promote their well being
  • Consider the evidence and form a view about the likelihood of the child suffering Significant Harm in the future and decide whether the child is at continuing risk of Significant Harm
  • Make a decision about whether the child should be the subject of a Child Protection Plan
  • Devise an agreed outline inter-agency Child Protection Plan to safeguard the child and promote her/his welfare in order to decide how that action will be taken forward and with what intended outcomes and time-scales
  • Nominate a  Lead Social Worker, to develop, co-ordinate and implement the Child Protection Plan
  • Identify the membership of the multi agency Core Group to develop and monitor the Child Protection Plan
  • Set the date for the first Core Group meeting to take place within 10 working days of the Conference
who should attend
Who should attend
  • Parents and those with Parental Responsibility
  • The child, aged over 12 and having due regard to the guidance in Section 12, Enabling Children's Participation
  • The child's Social Worker and first line manager
  • Police Officer
  • Health services staff involved with the child/ren - e.g. Health Visitor, School Nurse, GP
  • Education services (schools, Education Welfare Officers etc)
  • Designated Nurse and Designated Doctor
children subject to cp plans in surrey
Children subject to CP Plans in Surrey
  • 930 children subject to CP Plans
  • Ten FTE CP Chairs in the SCU
  • Approximately 55 Conferences (families) per week
  • Highest category: Emotional Abuse
  • Lowest Category: Physical Abuse