5.9 Involving Children and Family Members
This chapter was reviewed in September 2020
Next due for review September 2022
- Involving Parents and Carers
- Involving Children
- Criteria for Presence of Child at Conference
- Indirect Contributions When a Child is not Attending
- Direct Involvement of a Child in a Conference
Involving Parents and Carers
Parents and carers must be invited to conferences (unless exclusion is justified as described in Exclusion of Family Members from a Conference Procedure). Parents/ others with Parental Responsibility who no longer live with the children should also be invited. Consideration for inviting fathers of unborn children, although they do not have Parental Responsibility, should also be given.
The social worker must facilitate their constructive involvement by ensuring in advance of the conference that they are given sufficient information and practical support to make a meaningful contribution. This includes:
If parents / carers feel unable to attend the Conference, alternative means should be provided for them to communicate with the Chair of the Conference.
The family should be provided with written information about the conference to include:
Written information about conferences should be left with the family and include references to:
The role of the supporter is to enable the parent/carer to put their point of view, not to take an adversarial position or cross-examine participants.
The child, subject to their level of understanding, needs to be given the opportunity to contribute their wishes and feelings meaningfully to the Conference.
In practice, the appropriateness of including an individual child must be assessed in advance and relevant arrangements made to facilitate attendance at all or part of the Conference.
Where it is assessed, in accordance with the criteria below, that it would be inappropriate for the child to attend, alternative arrangements should be made to ensure their wishes and feelings are made clear to all relevant parties - e.g. use of an advocate, written or taped comments.
Criteria for Presence of Child at Conference
The primary issues to be considered are:
To establish their wish with respect to attendance, the child must be first provided with a full and clear explanation of purpose, conduct, membership of the Conference and potential provision of an advocate or support person.
Written information translated into the preferred language should be provided to those able to read and an alternative medium e.g. audio, offered those who cannot read.
Indirect Contributions When a Child is not Attending
Indirect contributions from a child might include a pre-meeting with the Conference Chair
Other indirect methods include written statements, emails, text messages and audio comments prepared alone or with independent support, and representation via an advocate.
Direct Involvement of a Child in a Conference
In advance of the conference, the Chair and social worker should agree whether:
If the 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 prepare a report or rehearse any particular points that the child wishes to make.
Those for whom English is not a first language should be offered and provided with an interpreter.
Provision should be made to ensure that a child who has any form of disability is enabled to participate.
Consideration should be given to enabling the child to be accompanied by a supporter or an advocate.