Following a child protection enquiry, the initial child protection conference is the next step in child care proceedings.
The conference will bring together the family members and their advocates with those professionals most involved with the child and family.
What Are the Criteria for Calling an Initial Child Protection Conference?
An initial child protection conference must be called when the child protection enquiry has given rise to the concern that a child may be suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. Such circumstances include:
- Where a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm caused by any person with whom the child lives or has significant contact;
- Where a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm due to failure on the part of the parent/carer to provide adequate protection;
- Where there are mounting concerns for a child and it is believed the child needs a Child Protection Plan;
- Where there is an unborn baby for whom a Child Protection Plan needs to be made (this applies whether or not Children’s Social Care intend to seek a Court Order on the birth of the child);
- Where a person who is likely to pose a risk to the child has joined or is planning to join the family or has significant contact;
- When an Emergency Protection Order has been obtained;
- Where a child, subject to a court order, is to be placed with a parent/carer and agencies consider this will put the child at risk of significant harm;
- Where an application for a court order has been refused and the child is still considered to be at risk of significant harm in the care of their parents/carers;
- Where a Child Protection Plan was not made/ discontinued, due to an agreed long-term plan to protect the child but there has been a significant change to this plan;
- Where a child has died as a result of the parenting or care received and there are other children in the household.
What is the Purpose of a Child Protection Conference?
The child protection conference will look at all the information obtained regarding the developmental needs of the child; and how capable the parents are of fulfilling those needs. It’s purpose is to guarantee the safety and development of the child within the family environment by weighing up the likelihood that the child will come to significant harm and – based upon that judgement – decide what actions should be taken to make sure that the child’s welfare is safeguarded and promoted. This may – where circumstances dictate – include the child becoming subject to a Child Protection Plan.