The conference provides an opportunity to share information and concerns. We will consider the level of risks to your child and to make plans, which will lead to improvements.
It may be recommended that Children's Social Care involve the Courts to ensure the safety of your child. It is important to understand that the initial Child Protection Conference itself is not a court of law and has no legal powers of its own.
Who will be at the conference?
The people who are usually invited include your child (if they are old enough), another family member, your family doctor, school nurse, teacher, someone from the Police and your child/ren’s Social Worker.
If there is someone you don’t want to be invited to the conference, please let either your child/ren’s Social Worker or the Conference Chair know before the meeting.
Can I bring someone to support me?
You can bring a friend, relative, advocate or solicitor with you to the conference. They will be able to support you, but won’t be able to give their opinion or be involved in making decisions about risk or planning.
If you need an interpreter to help you understand what is being said we will ensure that an interpreter attends. Your social worker will discuss this with you before the conference.
Sometimes, other family members such as grandparents may wish their views to be known to the conference. The chairperson can arrange for this to happen.
It is your child who is being considered, so in most cases it is appropriate for them to attend some of the conference if they are old enough and if they want to.
If a representative from North Wales Police is present, he/she may be helped by the discussion at the conference to decide whether or not any police action is needed. It is important to remember that the conference is about the welfare of your child. It is not about accusing anyone or trying to find someone guilty. The Police Officer will be asked to share information about previous convictions of anyone in the household or who had contact with your children.
How long will it last?
The conference should take about one and a half to two hours. Please talk to your social worker if you have problems attending the meeting - for example child care problems or medical needs.
What will happen at the conference?
The conference will be chaired by an independent Child Protection Coordinator.
The Child Protection Coordinator is employed by Conwy County Borough Council; they are independent of the professionals who have been involved in the assessment and of the people who are present at the conference.
The Chair should ensure that the conference focuses on your child, whose interests must come first. The Chair should also make sure that everyone who is present can make a full contribution to the discussion.
You will have an opportunity to meet the Chair before the meeting. They will explain how the conference will be run. If for some reason you feel that you are unable to go to the conference you will be able to tell the Chair your views and what you want the meeting to know. Alternatively you can write to the Chair and explain your views. Your social worker will explain how you do this.
We know that the conference may be difficult or upsetting for family members. We still encourage you to attend as you will be able to share your understanding of your child and the situation. This will help those at the conference to make the best decisions for your child.
At the conference you will have the opportunity to describe in your words the events which led to the conference. You will be asked to talk about your child and your family and about any difficulties your child or other family members may be having. You will also be asked for any ideas you might have about making things better.
You will not be put under pressure to say anything you do not want to say. If you and your child's other parent are not living together you will have an opportunity to be in the conference separately for some of the time, if you wish. Everyone will have an opportunity to comment if they feel that somebody has said something that they think is untrue or unfair. However, nobody will be allowed to argue with any points made or to cross-examine anyone.
If things are said in the conference that you are unhappy about or if you are not sure what to say about a particular point you can ask the Chair to explain things better or have a few minutes’ break so you can think about things. You can also talk to your solicitor or the person that has come to support you in private if you wish.
The conference will follow an agreed agenda (a list of things to talk about). Part of the conference will be to get an understanding of your family and establish what events led to the conference. This will be done by hearing what everyone has to say about events leading up to the conference. Following this the conference will have to consider the following:
- What these facts tells us about any possible risk to the welfare and, or safety of your child and how strong that risk is;
- Whether anything needs to be done to protect your child and how quickly this may happen;
- Whether your child needs a Care and Support Protection Plan or Care and Support Plan. The requirements for this will be explained to you at the conference.
The conference will discuss what may need to be done to ensure that your child is protected and your views will be considered.
You may be asked if you are prepared to agree to certain things. You will not be put under any pressure to agree and you will be given the opportunity to leave the conference room to think about what is being suggested before giving your answer.
If you are unhappy with any aspect of the initial conference process and want to make a complaint, the Chair will provide you with information about how to do that.
Statements of confidentiality
Any information gathered, stated or recorded, as part of this conference process will only be used for safeguarding children. It will be shared only with others who have a valid need to know. If you have any concerns about the sharing of information please talk to your social worker or the Chair of the conference.
All conference participants are expected to behave in a way which promotes the individual dignity of others. Any Care and Support Protection Plans that are made must be sensitive to the child's needs, including their race, culture, linguistic and religious background, sexual orientation and level of ability.
If you want to know more or want an explanation of anything please ask your social worker.