5.7 Challenges by Professionals and Parents
Last reviewed in March 2020
Next review in March 2023
- Professionals' Concerns about the Conference process
- Disagreement by Children, Young People and their families/carers/advocates
- Stage 1 - Exploration by Conference Chair and/or their Manager
- Stage 2 - Formal Consideration
- Stage 3 - The Complaint and Appeal Panel
- Reconvened Conference
- Further Challenge
Professionals' Concerns about the Conference process
When professionals are concerned about the management of the Conference they must seek advice from their named / designated / lead professional or manager.
A senior manager of an agency may support these concerns and write to the manager of the Child Protection Conference Service, copying in the chair and the agency professional who raised the concern.
Disagreement by Children, Young People and their families/carers/advocates
Parents and/or children may wish to make representations or complain. This could relate to the way the meeting was managed, the category of concern, or the decisions that were made as a result of the Conference.
All parties must be made aware that:
The end result for a complainant will be either that
Complaints about individual agencies, their performance and provision (or non-provision) of services should be responded to in accordance with the relevant agency's ordinary complaints handling processes
Stage 1 - Exploration by Conference Chair and/or their Manager
The Conference Chair should inform their Manager that they have received the complaint.
Complaints made outside the 10 working days' time limit may, in exceptional circumstances and at the discretion of the Conference Chair, be accepted.
The Conference Chair should meet with the complainant (who may be supported by a friend or relative) within 10 working days of receipt of the complaint so as to:
At the meeting with the complainant, the Conference Chair should be accompanied by a colleague who can take minutes.
Within a further 10 working days, the conference chair should provide a written response to the complainant including notes of their meeting. This letter should include information on how to pursue concerns further if the complainant remains dissatisfied.
The response provided to the complainant should be copied to the Children's Social Care Complaints Manager.
Stage 2 - Formal Consideration
Staff involved in this meeting should include the Reviewing Manager and / Senior Manager for Child Protection Conferences and a note taker.
The Local Authority Complaints Officer should be kept informed of the progress of this complaint.
A Complaint Meeting at Stage 2 should be arranged and held within 28 days to attempt to resolve the areas of concern.
The Complaint Meeting should have access to and will consider:
The meeting should seek to address areas of dissatisfaction and to resolve matters where possible. Following the meeting the complainant should receive a letter to confirm what was agreed and to advise the complainant of their right to move to Stage 3 within 28 days, if they are still dissatisfied.
The Local Authority Complaints Officer should be informed of the outcome of Stage 2 and receive a copy of this letter where there are complaints which relate to issues outside the procedure or, the complainant has separate complaints which are being addressed through the Local Authority Complains Process or NHS Complaints. The Safeguarding Children Partnership Business Manager should also be informed if the complainant wishes to progress to an Appeal Panel.
Stage 3 - The Complaint and Appeal Panel
If, within 20 working days of days of receipt of the Stage 1 letter, the complainant notifies the Complaints Manager that they remain dissatisfied and specifies reasons, arrangements must be made to convene, within 20 working days, a panel of a minimum of 3 individuals from the Safeguarding Partnership or its sub-groups.
The Complaints Manager in liaison with the senior child protection manager will make arrangements for this meeting, and the representative of the agency least directly involved in the case will normally fulfil the role of Panel Chair.
The Panel membership should include at least two from amongst Safeguarding Investigations Unit, Children's Social Care, education and health agencies and the individuals should have had no previous or present direct line management responsibility for the case in question.
The Panel must be provided with the following documentation:
The Complaints Manager will liaise with the complainant throughout, and be available at the Panel, to advise on relevant processes.
The Panel should be convened within 20 working days of the receipt of the complainant's letter and consider whether:
The Panel will:
The Panel chair should ensure that the Panel's conclusions should be put in writing to the complainant within 10 working days of its meeting and will:
A recommendation must be made to re-convene the conference, under a different chair if:
If the Panel concludes that procedures relating to the conference were correctly followed and that the decision(s) reached were reasonable, it must confirm that the conclusions of the original conference stands and will be routinely reviewed when the Review Conference is held.
The Panel should also consider any specific concerns that may be relevant to communicate to agencies involved with the case and may make recommendations relating to practice or procedure to any safeguarding partner agency.
The chair of a reconvened Child Protection Conference (Initial or Review) must ensure that all those present have seen or are briefed at the Conference about the decisions reached by the Panel.
The chair of a reconvened Child Protection Conference (initial or review) must ensure that all those present have seen or are briefed at the conference about the decisions reached by the Panel.
A distinction must be made by the Conference Chair between the need to discuss the conclusions of the Panel and the task of the Child Protection Conference, which is to consider the child(ren)'s current circumstances.
A complainant who nonetheless remains dissatisfied may wish to pursue their grievances via the Ombudsman or a Judicial Review.