Child Protection Conferences
The London Borough of Lewisham Multi-Agency Child Protection Conference Report Template was introduced in February 2022.
ALL professional agencies must complete this report, even if they are unable to attend but are invited. This must be sent to the Quality Improvement Business Support Team (QISBusinessSupport@lewisham.gov.uk) within the following timescales:
- Initial Child Protection Conference – 2 working days before
- Review Child Protection Conference - 5 working days before
These reports must be shared with the families before the meeting – there should not be any information that the family do not know that will be shared in the meeting. If there is confidential information that cannot be shared with the family in the conference due to concerns that this will increase risk to children, then please alert the Chair to this before the meeting.
Structure of the Conference
The Conference is chaired by a Child Protection Chairperson, who is a qualified and experienced social work professional. Their responsibility in the meeting is to make decisions in respect of the level of risk faced by a child, and create a multi-agency plan that aims to keep the child safe.
The chair will endeavour to gather information (not already provided in the reports) and seek to focus on the key areas of risk/ harm to the child, and any examples or times where the risk has been managed and the child kept safe (this is called existing safety).
The Chair will speak with everyone in the conference to gather their views and analysis, as well as recommendation (see below).
Participation in the Conference
All relevant professionals who are involved with a child or their family are requested to attend a Child Protection Conference. The focus in the meeting will be around analysis of the harm and safety and what plan needs to be in place to address the key areas of danger and risk.
It is really important for professionals to keep their summaries brief in conference. If they have completed and shared their reports in advance of the conference meeting then this should mean they do not need to repeat the information in their report (the ‘detail’). The Conferences need to be a balance of pulling out the pertinent details about risk and existing examples of safety, and creating a multi-agency plan that is likely to keep the child safe. It is not meant to be an opportunity to share an exhaustive bullet point list of what is working well, and what is not.
Scaling, Recommendations and Categories
We use the Signs of Safety model in our conferences. One of the tools within this model is the scaling. We use a ‘Safety scale’ which means when scoring, we are considering how ‘safe’ the child is on a scale of 0-10. 10 is that the child is safe, 0 is that they are not (in very basic terms). The Chair should set the parameters of what 0 means and what 10 means to allow scoring to reflect the needs of the family. Professionals who haven’t yet been to a conference, or other social care meeting, can ask for some guidance around scoring, but there is no prescriptive way of doing this. It is for each professional to weight where they consider the child and situation is.
All professionals attending a conference are expected to scale and to make a recommendation in conference about whether a plan is required, and if a Child Protection Plan is recommended, what category that be under.
Categories can cause some anxiety for families and professionals alike. The four categories are Emotional Abuse, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse and Neglect. It’s important that the professionals are honest with their recommendation – if the parent has neglected their child’s needs even if unintentionally or due to their own issues, it is still neglect.
Attendance at Core Group Meetings
If a professional is identified as part of the Core Group of professionals around a child, then they are requested (and expected) to attend regular core group meetings every 6 weeks. Again, the focus of these meetings is ideally to share updates and review the efficacy of the plan, focus on the risk and safety for the children in question. Scaling is expected at the end of CGMs but no recommendation is considered necessary.
London Child Protection Procedures, Core Procedures, CP4
Working Together 2018