5.16 Actions and Decisions of the Conference
- Categories of Abuse or Neglect
- If a Child is made the subject of a Child Protection Plan
- Outline Child Protection Plan
- If a Child is not made the subject of a Child Protection Plan
- Discontinuing the Child Protection Plan
As described in Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018, Flowchart 4, Action following a strategy discussion (page 42) the conference should consider the following questions when determining whether the child should be the subject of a Child Protection Plan:
The test for likelihood of suffering harm in the future should be that either:
If the child is at continuing risk of Significant Harm, (s)he will require inter-agency help and intervention delivered through a formal Child Protection Plan.
The chair of a conference is responsible for the conference decision. (S)he will consult conference members, aim for a consensus as to the need for a plan or not, but ultimately will make the decision and note any dissenting views.
The decision making process will normally take place with parents / carers present.
The chair must make a decision about the need for a Child Protection Plan 'based on the views of all agencies represented at the conference and also take into account any written contributions that have been made.
Categories of Abuse or Neglect
If the decision is that the child is in need of a Child Protection Plan, Working Together to Safeguard Children states the chair should determine under which category of abuse or neglect the child has suffered or likely to suffer.
The category used (Physical Abuse, Emotional Abuse. Sexual Abuse or Neglectwill indicate to those consulting the child's social care record the primary presenting concern at the time the child became subject to a Child Protection Plan.
Multiple categories should not be used to cover all eventualities, and 'other significant concerns' recorded instead. On occasions it may be appropriate to use more than one category if:
Emotional Abuse should only be used as a second category if substantial concern is indicated.
The need for a Child Protection Plan should be considered separately in respect of each child in the family or household.
If a Child is made the subject of a Child Protection Plan
Where a child is made the subject of a Child Protection Plan, it is the role of the conference to consider and make decisions on how agencies, professionals and the family should work together to ensure that the child will be safeguarded from harm in the future. This should enable both professionals, and the family, to understand exactly what is expected of them and what can they expect of others.
The chair must ensure that the following tasks are completed:
Where a child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, Significant Harm in the future, it is the local authority's duty to consider the evidence and decide what, if any, legal action to take. The information presented to the Child Protection Conference should inform that decision-making process but it is for the local authority to consider whether it should initiate for example, Care Proceedings. Where a child who is the subject of a Child Protection Plan becomes Looked After, the Child Protection Plan should form part of the child's Care Plan.
Outline Child Protection Plan
The Outline Child Protection Plan should be outcome focussed and:
If a Child is not made the subject of a Child Protection Plan
If it is decided that the child is not at risk of continuing Significant Harm, but the child is in need of support to promote her/his health or development, the conference must ensure that recommendations are made to this effect.
Subject to the family's views and consent, it may be appropriate to:
The decision must be put in writing to the parent(s), and where appropriate the child, as well as communicated to them verbally.
Discontinuing the Child Protection Plan
As indicated in Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018, Flow Chart 5, What Happens After the Child Protection Conference, Including the Review? (page 52) a child should no longer be the subject of a Child Protection Plan if:
When a child is no longer the subject of a Child Protection Plan, notification should be sent, as minimum, to all those agency representatives who were invited to attend the initial Child Protection Conference that led to the plan.
Where one or more agencies currently working with a child are not present at the conference deciding on whether to discontinue the Child Protection Plan, the chair may decide to seek their views first. This should be done in writing within 10 working days and written responses provided within 10 working days.
The discontinuation of the Child Protection Plan should not lead to the automatic withdrawal of help. The Lead Social Worker must discuss with parents and child(ren) what services are wanted and needed, based on the re-assessment of the child and family. The Core Group should also consider what continuing support should be offered and, where the discontinuation of the Child Protection Plan is recommended, they should also submit a plan for the provision of the proposed continuing support, including the identification of a Lead Professional and which multi agency professionals will continue their involvement.
Consideration should be given to holding a multi-agency meeting 10 days following the discontinuing of the Child Protection Plan to develop a detailed child's plan and 3 months afterwards to provide a first review to the child's plan. Subsequently the plan should be reviewed at least every 6 months.