Child Protection Conferences
Lewisham's Children's Social Care Pledge to Service Users
- We will always put your children's safety and welfare first.
- We will not get involved in your family's lives any more than we need to.
- We will be open, honest and fair in our work with you and your family.
- We will always be polite and treat you with respect.
- We will work closely with other agencies to give you better support.
- We will write to you about major decisions.
What is a Child Projection Conference?
There is nothing more important than the safety and well-being of our children. A Child Protection Conference is a meeting between families and professionals which is held when there is concern about the safety of a child within a family.
The new Child Protection Conference helps your family and caregivers to work with Lewisham’s Children’s Social Care and other services to keep your child safe.
Lewisham is using a new way of working with your family and your children. We have introduced a more family friendly approach to Child Protection Conferences to ensure the best possible outcomes for your children and your family.
The new Child protection Conference meeting known as Strengthening Families Child Protection Conference meetings will assess risk by looking at strengths in your family; looking at worries about your family; and make decisions about child safety.
The purpose of a Conference is to:
- Share information about your child’s health, safety and wellbeing.
- Assess whether your child is suffering, or likely to suffer significant harm.
- Identify the strengths within your family.
- Identify any assistance needed by your family and professionals/agencies who might be able to provide this.
- Identify changes needed (if any) in order to ensure the safety of your child, which will be written down and given to you.
- Decide if your child needs to be subject to a Child Protection Plan.
A Child Protection Conference does not make decisions about legal or court action, or about where children should live.
As a parent, you are invited to attend the Conference and we would encourage you to take an active part. You may also bring someone with you as a supporter if you would like. This can be another family member, a friend, or some other person of your choice.
How can you prepare?
During the conference you will be given the chance to comment about what others are saying and to give your own information and views. You will also be asked what you think should happen in the future, including any help you feel is necessary.
Many families who have attended Conferences in the past tell us they were very nervous and didn’t say as much as they would like to. To help overcome this, it is sometimes helpful to do some preparation in advance.
We do not think it is fair that only professionals have the opportunity to provide a written report of what they want to say and parents do not get the same chance. You may write down the things you want the conference to know using the form provided. If you need help with this, please talk to the social worker.
Who else will be at the Conference?
Anyone who is able to support your child and your family can attend. This will include services and professionals who work with your child and your family. Everyone who attends the new conferences will have a chance to speak about:
- what is working well and;
- what is worrying them and;
- be involved in decisions about who might support your child who has been harmed, or is believed to be at risk of harm.
The Conference will be chaired by an Independent Chairperson. There will also be someone to take notes at the meeting.
A number of professionals will also be invited to the meeting, such as:
- Social Workers
- Health Visitors
- Attendance & Welfare Officers
- Probation Officers
- Professionals who have been involved with your family will be invited, but there may also be some individuals and agencies present, who you may not have met before. These individuals are invited because their expertise is required or because they may be able to assist you, your child, and your family.
Talking to children
It is important your child has an opportunity to talk about what they are worried about; what makes them happy; and what they would like to see happen in their family to keep them safe.
What happens at an Initial Conference?
The Independent Chairperson will meet with you just before the conference to welcome you, to explain how the Conference will run, and to talk about the best way for you to contribute to the discussion. The Chairperson will also ask you to tell us about the most significant people in your family and particular friends who help you to look after your children.
At the start of the Conference all the participants will introduce themselves, and the Chair will ask professionals to summarise the most important parts of their reports. You will be invited to contribute to this discussion. A plan will be developed with you and the professionals, after which a decision will be made about whether the risks to your child are significant enough that a Child Protection Plan is needed.
A Child Protection Plan is a list of actions with details of who is to carry out these actions and over what timescale.
You should come out of the Conference clear about what (if anything) needs to change. More detailed plans are usually made at a later meeting between you and the relevant professionals. This meeting is called the Core Group and usually happens immediately after the initial conference and as often as is needed afterwards.
It may mean that we do not make a Child Protection Plan for your child, but we will still try to help and support you, but the discussion will have identified assistance which may benefit your child, you and your family.
What can you expect from Children's Social Care?
They will work in partnership with you and your family. As a parent/carer, you should expect to:
- be listened to.
- be treated with respect.
- be kept informed and involved in decisions.
- get all the assistance and help that has been offered to you within the agreed time scales.
- receive a reliable service, with professionals doing what they say they will do.
- be absolutely clear about what we expect from you.
- receive copies of all reports 2 days before an initial Conference and 5 days before a Review Conference.
- get a copy of the Conference minutes within 20 working days of the Conference.
If you don’t feel we are meeting these standards, you should let us know.
What happens after the Conference?
After the Conference you will be sent a copy of the record of the conference.
If a Child Protection Plan is made, you will also be asked to attend regular meetings called ‘Core Groups’. At these meetings, you will look at the plan and discuss what progress has been made.
A Review Conference will be held after 3 months and then at 6 monthly intervals for as long as your child is subject of a Child Protection Plan.
My Report for the Conference
We recognise that it is not easy to remember everything you want to say. You can put your views in writing if you think that this will help. You do not have to do if you do not want to. The following questions may be helpful to you when thinking about what you do want to say.
- What is going well in the care of my children?
- What am I worried about ?
- This is what I think needs to change so that my children are safe and happy.
- This is what would be helpful to my family to make those changes.
If you have been told that you need to attend an “Initial child protection case conference” then the Parent Advocate Service could help you.
The Parent Advocate Service – a group of parents who volunteer their time to help other parents participate in the child protection process.
They will listen to you and help you understand what you can expect at the Conference. They can also attend the Conference with you to give you support.
“Parents know more about their family than any professional could possibly know, and well-founded
decisions about a child should draw upon this knowledge and understanding”
The aim of the Parent4Parent advocate service is to help parents to participate in the child protection process from an informed position and to promote good communication and a positive working relationship between the parents and the council.
The aim of the advocate is to:
- Talk to parents through the child protection process
- Attend an initial child protection case conference with parents and to give support
Who are they?
They are a group of parents who volunteer their time and are trained as parent advocates. They have worked with Children's Social Care with their own children and know they have a lot of support and knowledge to share with you.
What support can we offer?
They will listen to what you have to say, talk you through what you can expect when you attend the Initial Child Protection Case Conference, advise you on how to present yourself at the conference, as well as think about what you can do to work positively with the relevant professionals around your child’s needs.
The service is short-term and for the purpose of helping you prepare for, and be fully informed about the Initial Child Protection Conference. Lewisham Council also provide this service to support the parents at the conferences that follow, which are called Review Child Protection Conferences.
The service is independent from children’s social care, however they are organised and managed by staff within social care. They do not work with your children but are responsible for allocating families to advocates.
Everything you tell your advocate is in confidence. They will not share the information unless you ask them to, or give them permission to do so. However they do work within a child protection policy, which means they cannot keep your confidence if they become aware that there is, or could be, a child at risk.
What is the process of referral?
Once an Initial Child Protection Case Conference has been arranged for your child (or children) the social worker involved will ask you if you would like to be supported by an advocate.
- If you would like one, then a parent advocate will ring you to introduce themselves and arrange to meet with you which could be at the office or in an appropriate public area.
- At the first meeting they will listen to you and help you understand what is expected when you attend the Initial Child Protection Case Conference.
- If you would like them to attend they can support you at the Initial Child Protection Case Conference.
- The parent advocate will ring you a couple of days after the Initial Child Protection Case Conference to see if you would like to have a further opportunity to talk with them, which again could be at the office or in an appropriate public area.
- If you do not wish to meet with them at all, or again after the initial meeting, this will be the end of their involvement with you.
- If you have a complaint or any grievance specific to the Parent advocate, then you can contact one of the numbers noted at the bottom of this page with the issues or you can inform them that you wish to cease your involvement with the parent advocate.
For more information please
Text , phone or leave a message on: 07545 737611
Or Contact Lynn McShane (Advanced Practitioner) on: 07392191294
Keeping Information Safe
The information you are provided and held by agencies is highly confidential. The content of the information must not be copied or disclosed to any person other than the individual it is intended for, unless the information must be shared for the purpose it was given.
When in receipt of the information, please ensure it is protected and maintained securely.
When you are finished with the information please safely destroy it by cross cut shredding or secure disposal. Under no circumstances must the information be binned un-securely.
If you cannot dispose of the information in a secure manner please return the information to:-
Lewisham Children's Social Care Department, 1st Floor, Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, London SE26 4RU
Information must not be kept for longer than needed. If you have received it in error please contact Corporate Information on 020 8314 9928 or return it to the sender.
If you do not adhere to the above disclaimer you could be in breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 and therefore could face legal proceedings.
You can download and print the leaflet What is a Child Protection Conference?
Useful Link: London Child Protection Procedures