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5.9 Involving Children and Family Members

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This chapter was reviewed in September 2020

Next due for review September 2022

Contents

Involving Parents and Carers

5.9.1

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. 

5.9.2

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:

  • Explaining to parents/carers the purpose of the meeting, who will attend, the way in which it will operate, the purpose and meaning of a Child Protection Plan and the complaints process;
  • Consideration of childcare arrangements to enable the attendance of parent(s);
  • Those for whom English is not a first language must be offered an interpreter. A family member should not be expected to act as an interpreter of spoken or signed language (see Use of Interpreters, Signers or Others with Communication Skills Procedure);
  • Documents should be translated into the parents’ preferred language.
  • Provision should be made to ensure that visually or hearing impaired or otherwise disabled parents / carers are enabled to participate.

If parents / carers feel unable to attend the Conference, alternative means should be provided for them to communicate with the Chair of the Conference.

5.9.3

The family should be provided with written information about the conference to include:

  • The right to bring a friend, supporter or an advocate;
  • That if the family is accompanied by a solicitor their role is limited to that of a supporter;
  • Details of local advice and advocacy services; and
  • The conference complaints procedure
5.9.4

Written information about conferences should be left with the family and include references to:

  • The right to bring a friend, supporter or an advocate;
  • The fact that if the family is accompanied by a solicitor her /his role is limited to that  of a supporter;
  • Details of local advice and advocacy services; and
  • The Conference complaints procedur
5.9.5

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.

Involving Children

5.9.6

The child, subject to their level of understanding, needs to be given the opportunity to contribute their wishes and feelings meaningfully to the Conference.

5.9.7

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.

5.9.8

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

5.9.9

The primary issues to be considered are:

  • The child's level of understanding of the process;
  • Any expressed or implicit wish to be involved;
  • The parent / carer's views about the child's proposed presence;
  • Whether inclusion is assessed to be of benefit, or could pose a risk, to the child.
5.9.10

The test of 'sufficient understanding', is partly a function of age and partly the child's capacity to understand. Generally, a child of less than 12 years of age is unlikely to be able to be a direct and/or full participant in a conference. An older child is potentially able to contribute, but each should be considered individually in the light of maturity, and cognitive development.

5.9.11

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.

5.9.12

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

5.9.13

Indirect contributions from a child might include a pre-meeting with the Conference Chair

5.9.14

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

5.9.15

In advance of the conference, the Chair and social worker should agree whether:

  • The child attends for all or part of the conference, taking into account confidentiality of parents and/or siblings;
  • They should be present with one or more of their parents;
  • The Chair meets the child alone or with a parent / carer prior to the meeting.
5.9.16

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.

5.9.17

Those for whom English is not a first language should be offered and provided with an interpreter.

5.9.18

Provision should be made to ensure that a child who has any form of disability is enabled to participate.

5.9.19

Consideration should be given to enabling the child to be accompanied by a supporter or an advocate.


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This page is correct as printed on Thursday 1st of October 2020 02:59:39 PM please refer back to this website (http://sussexchildprotection.procedures.org.uk) for updates.
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