Section 47/Child Protection Enquiry
If children’s social work services are given information that makes them believe a child is ‘at risk’ they will undertake a child protection enquiry.
A social worker and possibly a police officer will need to visit the parents’ or carers’ home. Social workers can visit without an appointment but if they do, they must:
- provide identification
- explain why they are visiting
- discuss the concerns with the parents or carers and ask their views
- arrange to see the child
- assess any immediate risk to the child.
After the enquiry it may be that there is no reason for any further concern. If that is the case, the family will be told as soon as possible. Alternatively it may be that a Child Protection Conference is required
Child Protection Conference
What is a Child Protection Conference?
A Child Protection Conference is a meeting to discuss and record ongoing concerns about a child or children. The aims of the meeting are to:
- consider whether a child has been harmed or is at risk of being harmed and the nature of the concern about the child
- assess the degree of risk to the child’s health and well-being, and whether the child needs protection
- decide whether the child should become the subject of a Child Protection Plan
- make any recommendations about any further action needed to help the child and family.
Who is at the conference?
Parents and people from agencies who know the child and family are invited to attend the conference, for example heath visitors, teachers, doctors and social workers.
The meeting will be led by someone who has not been involved in the enquiries or case so far. They will make sure that everyone has a chance to give their views. The child concerned will be invited to attend if this is appropriate.
It is recognised that it can be very difficult for parents or carers to come to a meeting like this. It can be helpful to bring a partner, solicitor or friend who can provide support. If a solicitor comes they will need to note that the conference is not a formal hearing.
Parents and carers do not have to come to the conference, however your views are very important if the meeting is going to come to the right conclusion, if you choose not to come you can give your views in writing.
What happens at the meeting?
Parents and carers meet the chairperson before the meeting and read any reports which have been prepared..
Introductions are made and parents and carers hear what everyone has to say, they also have a chance to ask questions and give their own views. Parents and carers will be able to say what help they need in caring for their child.
What if parents and carers disagree with what happens at the meeting?
If you disagree with the decision made at the conference, there is a complaints procedure that should be followed In the first instance you should contact or ask to meet the chairperson to discuss your concerns. If you feel you can’t speak directly to the chairperson you can share your concerns in writing or speak to the chairperson’s manager.
All professionals at the meeting must keep to the strict rules of confidentiality. They will not discuss the conference with anyone other than the people they work with and who need to know. Notes of the meeting are sent to parents and carers and everyone who was invited to attend. These notes are kept confidential.
What happens next?
If your child is thought to be at risk of harm they will be made the subject of a Child Protection Plan
Child Protection Plan
The Child Protection Plan outlines what actions need to be taken to reduce the risk of harm to your child or children. There will be a review conference held at least every six months to look again whether the need for a plan remains. If the risk to your child or children has been removed, there will no longer be a protection plan.
Children’s social work services always try to keep children with their families in their own homes. Sometimes this is not possible, but we rarely remove a child from their family. In some cases, the person allegedly abusing the child may be asked to move out so that your child can stay at home. If your child is thought to be at risk you may still need support. We have a responsibility to provide information, advice and practical support, or ask other agencies to help your family. Whatever the outcome of the work we are undertaking you will be aware at all times.
A Core Group is the group of family members and professionals who meet regularly if a Child Protection Conference makes a child the subject of a Child Protection Plan. The Core Group is responsible for the implementation and review of the Child Protection Plan with the ultimate aim of making sure that the Child Protection Plan is keeping the child or children safe.
Core Group membership can be amended as appropriate but should include parents/carer, child (if appropriate), other relevant family members, the Keyworker (lead Social Worker) and professionals in direct regular contact with the child and the family.
Child Death Reviews
Government legislation requires that every Local Safeguarding Children Partnership has a Child Death Overview Panel to review the death of every child and young person from their area. By doing so we may find ways of doing things differently that will help children and families in the future.
How does a review happen?
Information about your child and how they died is collected. The information comes from records held by Hospitals, GPs, Health Professionals, Schools, Police, Children’s Social Care, Education and other agencies who may have known your child.
The Child Death Overview Panel includes Doctors, other Health Specialists, Children’s Services and the Police who meet regularly. They will look at the circumstances of your child’s death and will decide whether to recommend any changes or improvement to services for children that might prevent similar deaths in the future. Any recommendations are passed on to the organisations that are responsible for planning and managing services for children locally, as well as to other relevant agencies.
If you want to contribute to the review that is held in respect of your child, you should discuss this with a professional who has supported you since the death of your child and they will be able to assist.
Please see the help and support pages for further information.