The written record of the conference is a crucial working document for all relevant practitioners and the family. All child protection conferences both initial and review should have a trained person to take notes and produce records of the meeting. The record taker should have no other role in the conference and no involvement in the case.
The records should include:
Details of attendance, including exclusions and the provision of reports;
The essential facts of the case;
An accurate summary of the discussions at the conference N.B. this should not be a comprehensive and detailed account of who said what during the conference;
Identification of strengths;
A clear analysis of risk to the child;
All decisions reached, with information outlining the reasons for decisions;
An outline or revised child care and support protection plan enabling everyone to be clear about their tasks and timescales for completing action;
Any dissension from the conclusions, decision or recommendations of the conference.
Records should be taken in the language of the conference and a translation provided for participants who require one. Families may wish for the conference to be held in the language of their choice but to receive the records in another language.
The conference chair should agree the records including who should receive a full or partial copy before they are distributed. A summary and outline plan should be circulated within 5 working days or by the first meeting of the core group. A copy should be sent as soon as possible after the conference to all those who attended or were invited to attend, including family members, except for any part of the conference from which they were excluded. Good practice would aim for circulation no later than 20 working days. Conference participants, who have concerns regarding any inaccuracies in the records, should send their comments to the chair within ten working days of receiving the records.
The records are confidential and should not be passed by practitioners to third parties without the consent of the conference chair, except where transfer is made to another officer of the same agency i.e. new health visitor allocated to child. Child protection conference records and other records associated with the registration process should be retained by the agencies receiving them in accordance with their record retention policies.
Each Regional Safeguarding Board should agree protocols to ensure parents, caregivers and children are aware of the procedures for making a complaint, information is available describing the procedure, and, arrangements for receiving and investigating complaints are established.
The complaints procedure should cover:
the process of the conference, in terms of adherence to procedures;
the registration decision, including the category;
a decision not to register or to de-register.
The procedure should not cover:
complaints in relation to the contents of records, which will be dealt with by the conference chair;
complaints or representations relating to services that are delivered by individual agencies as a result of conference decisions;
complaints about an individual practitioner attending conference. These complaints will be dealt with under the internal complaints’ procedures of the relevant agency. If an issue emerges in relation to an individual practitioner whilst a conference complaint is being addressed, it will be referred to that individual’s agency.
The Regional Safeguarding Board should ensure:
easy and open access to the procedure;
all complaints relating to the outcome and process of conferences are received and responded to within an agreed timeframe;
all complaints are monitored and reported to the regional safeguarding board at regular agreed intervals;
when complaints are upheld, redress is made within agreed timescales and lessons learned.
Information, which explains the process for making complaints, will be made available to parents, caregivers and children invited to the conference.
At each conference, the chair will check that this has occurred, and this should be noted in the records.
Where parents, caregivers and children have expressed concern about process or outcome during a conference, they should be reminded of their right to complain. This should be noted in the records. Refer to Regional Safeguarding Board guidance for further information for managing complaints about child protection conference.