SUMMARISE INFORMATION ABOUT RISK OF SIGNIFICANT HARM
Consider: what do we know about cause of harm and impact on child?
What are our concerns about parenting capacity, family and environmental factors?
What do we know about protective factors and family strengths?
MAKE SENSE OF THE INFORMATION TO ESTABLISH WHY PRACTITIONERS ARE CONCERNED
- Consider: does risk of harm and concerns about parenting capacity outweigh family strengths and protective factors?
IN OUR PRACTITIONER JUDGEMENT IS THE CHILD AT CONTINUING RISK OF HARM?
If yes consider registration
If no is a care and support plan required?
- Consider: what category/ies best describes the ongoing risk of harm?
DEVELOP OUTLINE CARE, SUPPORT AND PROTECTION PLAN:
Consider: what needs to change?
What must parents do?
How can practitioners support and facilitate change?
Who should be in the core group?
The practitioner participants at the conference should determine, based on the evidence available:
In such cases the test should be that either:
The views of the child and family in relation to the risks of harm and their views must be taken into account, but it is the practitioners at the conference who will make one of the following decisions:
When making these decisions practitioners must recognise:
the focus is on actual, likely and/or ongoing risk of significant harm;
a decision should be made separately for each child in the family, taking account of the harm they are or are likely to experience and the impact on their health and development;
practitioners attending a conference are part of the decision-making process and cannot abdicate their responsibility;
those attending the conference and hearing the information provided, will be asked to provide a view on registration for each of the children being discussed.
If this decision is agreed by all partners, the parents should be encouraged to continue with the wellbeing assessment under Part 3 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 to determine what care and support might best help to promote the child’s well-being.
A care and support protection plan should follow the requirements set out under Part 4 Section 54 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) 2014 Act.
In addition to the requirements under Part 4 the overall aim of the plan is to:
ensure the child is safe and prevent him or her from suffering further harm;
promote the child’s well-being and development;
support the family and wider family members to safeguard and promote the well-being of their child, provided it is in the best interests of the child to do so;
describe the identified developmental needs of the child and what services are required;
include specific, achievable, child-focused outcomes intended to safeguard and promote the well-being of the child;
include realistic strategies and specific actions to achieve the planned outcomes;
clearly identify roles and responsibilities of practitioners and family members, including the nature and frequency of contact by practitioners with children and family members;
lay down points at which progress will be reviewed, and the means by which progress will be judged;
set out clearly the roles and responsibilities of those practitioners with routine contact with the child, for example, health visitors, GPs and teachers, as well as any specialist or targeted support to the child and family.
Analysing and making sense of the information, shared at the conference, should inform decision-making as well as providing a basis for future planning for the child.
The conference should follow a structured process to reach a decision as to whether to include a child’s name on the child protection register.
The process should be as follows:
information sharing based on the written reports received by those present and those unable to attend;
discussion about the risk of significant harm, family members lived experiences, their wishes and feelings and what they would like to see change;
the chair should ensure information-sharing and discussion is child-centred and relevant. if too much time is spent on this part of the process analysis, decision-making and planning may be negatively affected;
the conference chair should summarise the discussion based on the facts presented at the conference and ensure conference members agree this is an accurate summary;
the chair should ask each member of the conference for their view about the risks to the child and the need for a care and support protection plan, including the proposed content of such a plan in terms of risks to be addressed;
applying a strengths-based approach throughout the process.
The discussion at the conference should not be allowed to focus solely on registration. Time and attention should be given to the development of a care and support protection plan if required.
Each person at the conference, other than family members or people who are there in the role of support for parents, should express a view about the need for a care and support protection plan and registration. Members of CAFCASS Cymru would not normally be expected to express an opinion regarding registration.
Parents, children (where appropriate) and family members should also be asked for their views, but it is the practitioners who would be responsible for making the final decision.
At many conferences there will be a consensus for or against registration and the category/categories of registration.
In the event of a lack of consensus:
the chair should attempt to seek a resolution, for example by re-summarising the issues and risks and facilitating further discussion;
the chair needs to ensure the view of each agency has been sought.
voting as such should be avoided. However, if consensus is still not possible the decision on registration should be subject to a vote. Voting should be based on agencies and/or practitioner groupings not individuals. The chair should clearly identify the relevant practitioner groupings within agencies in respect of voting. Senior staff present from each agency should assist in this process and ensure that practitioner groupings are kept to a minimum;
the nominated or lead person from each agency/practitioner group should be asked to provide a view on registration;
where there is no consensus but there is a majority view, the chair will accept the majority view even if he/she may disagree with this. If the chair believes the decision places the child at risk, he/she needs to take their concern to the senior manager with responsibility for safeguarding immediately;
in situations where members remain split 50/50, the chair will make the decision about registration.
The records of the conference should reflect the difference of view expressed at the conference, including any concerns of the chair regarding the appropriateness of the decision.
Where the issues of a lack of consensus relate to practitioner differences the Regional Safeguarding Board resolution of professional differences may need to be used at a later date.
Groupings of agency representatives should be provided by Regional Safeguarding Boards
It is not good practice to defer making a decision about registration at a child protection conference
However, it may be appropriate to defer convening an initial child protection conference if key elements of information will not be available to make an informed judgement about risk to child and decide whether to place a child’s name on the register.
If there is insufficient information upon which to base a decision, it is probable that the conference will decide not to place the child’s name on the register but recommend that the proportionate assessment is completed and should provide clearer information regarding the child and family.
The conference, and in particular the chair, must be satisfied that there is no discernible indication of immediate risk for the child. A date for the next child protection conference should be set.