SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter provides information for practitioners on securing the participation of children and young people, and their parents / carers, in Child Protection Conferences. It describes a range of methods which can be used to enable this. Section 3, Involving Children and Young People in the Child Protection Conference Process contains a flowchart showing the processes to be followed when involving young people in Child Protection Conferences.
Please Note - There is a Presumption that all parents, children and young people will in some way participate in all Child Protection Conferences.
In March 2020 additional detail was added into Section 2, Involving Children and Young People in Child Protection Conferences, to set out expectations / best practice for involving children and young people in Child Protection Conferences.
The flow chart / summary of the process linked from Section 3, Involving Children and Young People in the Child Protection Conference Process Flow Chart has also been updated.
Derby City Council uses a Strengths Based Approach for all work with children and families.
- Involving Children and Young People in Child Protection Conferences
- Involving Children and Young People in the Child Protection Conference Process Flow Chart
All meetings, decisions and plans should be informed by the views, wishes and feelings of children, young people, their parents (mothers and fathers) and carers. Wherever possible, and appropriate, they will be supported and enabled to participate in those meetings and decisions.
Children, young people, their fathers, mothers and carers may participate in different ways, and we will promote participation in the way best suited to those individuals and their circumstances.
Participation may be through:
- Attendance in person;
- Representation by an Advocate;
- Consultation forms and booklets;
- Sending in views in other ways; and
- Consultation and representation of their views by others.
We recognise that, for a range of reasons, some individuals are at risk of not having the same opportunities to participate. We will promote participation by all and will take steps to remove any barriers. Where children, young people, their mothers, fathers or carers have additional needs they may be supported by an Advocate and an interpreter will be provided where they are not confident in English. Participation by fathers will be actively promoted, and arrangements made for consultation with any absent or excluded parent before the meeting as appropriate.
2. Involving Children and Young People in Child Protection Conferences
All children should be supported to participate in some way in any Child Protection Conference relating to them. Given the nature of many safeguarding concerns, practitioners may feel it is not appropriate for children to attend, however attendance can be managed in a way which allows the child's voice to be heard without exposing them to a potentially distressing or even abusive situation.
If a child attends all or part of the conference, it is essential that they are prepared by the Social Worker or independent Advocate who can help them to present their views. Normally, attendance would be at the initial part of the conference and the child then taken back home or to school by an appropriate person. As soon as possible after the conference the Social Worker must inform the child of the outcome.
Provision should be made to ensure that a child who has any form of disability is enabled to participate.
Consideration must be given to the impact of the conference on the child e.g. if they have a significant learning difficulty or where it will be impossible to ensure they are kept apart from a parent who may be hostile and/or attribute responsibility onto them. Consideration must be given in particular to the extent to which it is appropriate for a child to hear details of a parent's personal difficulties and a parent's view about this must be respected.
In such cases, energy and resources should be directed towards ensuring that, by means of an Advocate and/or preparatory work by a Social Worker, the child's wishes and feelings are effectively represented. Derby City Council has commissioned Change, Grow and Live to provide independent advocacy for young people who of school age who are involved in the Initial Child Protection Conference process. Independent advocacy is available to gain young people's wishes and views to inform the conference process or support the young person with attending the conference and giving their views. Further information can found by visiting the Change Grow and Live website.
Change, Grow and Live have a "wishes and feelings" form which all children should be supported to complete by their social worker or another trusted adult, or children may do drawings or letters; all input from the child will be considered at the conference.
Additionally, we expect social workers to always consult children and reflect their views, wishes and feelings in their report. We have a leaflet for children which explains the conference process and should be shared with them in advance of the meeting.
Fathers and mothers should be supported to attend Child Protection Conferences; this includes anyone with Parental Responsibility, and current carers. There may often be sensitivities and sometimes restrictions on attendance or information sharing amongst these individuals; these should be discussed with the Chair in advance and arrangements for managing this agreed. Any mother or father not able to attend should be consulted by the social worker in advance of the meeting, and their views represented verbally or in writing. It may also be appropriate to hold separate confidential sections in the meeting, or for the Chair to meet separately with an excluded parent. It would not however be appropriate to repeat a meeting to allow both parents to attend.
Where parents attend, they will be met separately by the Chair before the meeting starts to explain the process and answer any concerns or questions. They may be supported by an Advocate (including a solicitor) or a family member or friend, although consideration needs to be given to confidentiality for the children or other individuals. The conference chair may sometimes ask a family member or friend to wait outside for some or all of a meeting. We have a leaflet for parents to explain the conference process which should be shared with them in advance of the meeting.