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2.3 Child Protection Review Process

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter explains the business process that should be followed when working in the Child Protection process.

This chapter should be read in conjunction with Knowsley Safeguarding Children Board Procedures, Section 4 - Managing Individual Cases where there are Concerns about a Child's Safety and Welfare.

All relevant Social Work chapters are linked throughout the text of this chapter.

See also Practice Standards.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was reviewed and amended in July 2017 to reflect current requirements and expectations, notably to ensure the chair of the conference should have access to the report at least 3 working days before the conference.


A Strategy Discussion will determine the need for a Section 47 Enquiry. The Strategy Discussion will take place within 24 hours of the decision to hold it. The Strategy Discussion will be chaired by the Social Care Team Manager.

Where the Strategy Discussion concludes that there is no need for a Section 47 Enquiry, consideration must be given to the need for a Single Assessment being completed to ascertain whether the child(ren) would benefit from receiving, services as a Child in Need, section 17, Children Act 1989. In some cases, it may be appropriate to step the family down to a EHA based assessment (see Knowsley Safeguarding Board Step Up / Step Down Procedure(Knowsley Safeguarding Children Board Procedures)).

When a Strategy Meeting agrees that a Section 47 Enquiry should be undertaken, a Single Assessment should be initiated at this point unless one has already been commenced. The Section 47 component of the Single Assessment will be recorded in a separate document within ICS - Record of S47 Enquiries.

In some cases, a Strategy Discussion will conclude that there is a need for a single agency investigation by the Police. In such circumstances, any activity by Children’s Social Care is precluded. If there is a police investigation - the child should be supported by CIN plan until the investigation has been completed. 

All decisions and actions are the responsibility of the Team Manager of the allocated social work team.

When conducting Child Protection Enquiries, although desirable, it is not essential to have the family’s consent to information sharing between agencies, although it is good practice to seek consent wherever possible. It is therefore possible to gather information from other agencies, thus undertaking a key element of the assessment, without the consent of the person(s) with Parental Responsibility. However the competent child and those with Parental Responsibility retain the right to withhold consent to interviews and medical assessments. Legal advice must be sought where withholding consent is an obstacle to safeguarding children.

The Assessment process should include a Single Assessment planning meeting, however, due to urgency, the Section 47 component will take precedence and agencies will be contacted to share information as soon as possible to inform the investigation.

In order to fully inform the S47 enquiry, it is important that key agencies are consulted, the agencies that will be contacted include the GP, Health Visitor, School Nurse, School, Housing and any other services that the child and their family is, or has been recently involved with.

Section 47 Enquiries will establish whether a case conference is required (to determine whether the child is likely to suffer Significant Harm (see Knowsley Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual, Multi-Agency Child Protection Standards).

The S47 enquiry can conclude that:

  • Concerns are not substantiated - with the consent of and in consultation with the family, CSC and other relevant agencies should always consider whether there is a need for support and/or services. The Single Assessment must address the outcome of the Section 47 enquiry and the rationale for any decisions made. Any services that are provided to the family are provided with the full consent of the family and the child if able to consent;
  • Concerns are substantiated, but the child/young person is not judged to be at continuing risk of Significant Harm - there may be evidence that the child has suffered Significant Harm, but it is agreed that a plan for ensuring the child’s future safety and welfare can be developed and implemented without having a Child Protection Conference or plan, as there is no continuing risk of Significant Harm. There are a number of reasons why this decision may be taken, for example the family’s circumstances has changed or the person responsible for the harm is no longer in contact with the child. The decision not to proceed to a Child Protection Conference where the child has been deemed to have suffered Significant Harm should be made with care by a the relevant Team Manager and their reasons recorded in ICS and in the Single Assessment. Where the Single Assessment is to be completed and ongoing services provided, the guidance in respect of those cases where the concerns are not substantiated should be followed. The involvement and consent of the family will be essential;
  • Concerns are substantiated and the child/young is judged to be at continuing risk of Significant Harm - where the child is judged to be at continuing risk of Significant Harm, the Team Manager should ensure that an Initial Child Protection Conference is requested and the social worker begins to draft the component of the Single Assessment that will form the Initial Child Protection Conference Report. It is unlikely that the Single Assessment will be completed prior to the conference, however the Record of Outcome of S47 Enquiry must be completed and the decision to request conference is formally recorded and agreed by the Team Manager before the date of the conference. In considering whether a Child Protection Plan would be appropriate, the conference should be informed of whether the family will consent to any further assessment work.

At the conclusion of any Single Assessment, the parent/carer and child, where of an age and understanding, should receive a copy of the Single Assessment, or should be informed in writing, and/or in another more appropriate medium of the decisions made and be offered the opportunity to record their views, disagreements and to ask for corrects to recorded information. This should be undertaken within 7 working days of the completion of the Single Assessment.

With the consent of the family, agencies and individuals involved in the assessment should also be informed of the decisions, with the reasons for these made clear.

Possible further action will be identified as a result of the conclusion of the S47 enquiry, these are included in the Record of outcome of S47 enquiry:

  • Request for Initial Child Protection Conference;
  • Other agency to monitor child’s welfare;
  • No further action - continue with Single Assessment;
  • Initiate legal action;
  • Provision of Services S17;
  • No further action;
  • No further actions refer to Family Support Co-ordinator/EHA Team.

The social worker will be required to include the reason for the action being recommended.

The social worker completes the Record of Outcome of S47 Enquiry and sends to the Team Manager for authorisation. This must be authorised and entered on ICS within 3 working days. NB the record of outcome of S47 enquiry must be completed and authorised prior to the Initial Child Protection Conference taking place.

Where the outcome is Initial Child Protection Conference, a request should be made to the QAU via work flow in ICS. (See Knowsley Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual, Multi-Agency Child Protection Standards.) The Quality Assurance Unit require at least 5 working days (which is part of the 15 working days) to organise the conference.

The social worker contacts the BSA in QAU, requesting an initial child protection conference. The BSA liaises with the Conference Chair to arrange the conference date, which must be within 15 working days of the Strategy Discussion, which initiated the S47 enquiries. The QAU BSA enters the date and time in Central Review (Outlook Calendar). The QAU BSA enters all the information in ICS.

The social worker informs the QAU BSA in writing of who should be invited (in addition to standard invitees). The QAU BSA sends the appropriate invitations to those on the invitation list with the accompanying leaflet for families/children about the child protection conference process.

The social worker completes the pre conference report, which should be made available to the Conference Chair 3 days in advance of the meeting. The SW or Team Manager should notify the chair when the report is finalised in ICS. If the chair has not received the report at least 3 working days prior to the date of the conference, they will escalate this to the Head of Service (QAU) and Head of Service for the responsible team and a decision will be made as to whether the conference will go ahead.

The report must be shared with parents not less than 24 hours in advance of the Initial Child Protection Conference.

It is good practice for the Team Manager or Senior Practitioner to attend the Initial Child Protection Conferences, or where it is assessed by the Team Manager to be appropriate due to the complexity of the conference, or inexperience of social worker etc. Where the IRO feels that a Team Manager is required specifically they must liaise with the case holding Team Manager prior to the conference.

Detailed guidance governing the management of child protection conferences is available in Knowsley Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual, Multi-Agency Child Protection Standards.

The following guidance is for Children's Social Care staff.

The purpose of the Initial Child Protection Conference is to:

  • Bring together and analyse, in an inter-agency setting, the information that has been obtained about the child’s developmental needs, and the parents’ or carers’ capacity to respond to these needs to ensure the child’s safety and promote the child’s health and development within the context of their wider family and environment;
  • Consider the evidence presented to the conference, make judgements about the likelihood of a child suffering significant harm in the future, and decide whether the child is at continuing risk of significant harm; and
  • Decide what future action is required to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child, how that action will be taken forward and with what intended outcomes.

All conferences are chaired by a Conference Chair from the QAU.

Prior to the conference the social worker should consider, with the parent/carer, what assistance or support might be necessary to promote the child’s (where of an age and understanding) attendance and participation in the meeting, for example transport, child care, interpreter, supporter. Where the child does not wish to attend the conference or their attendance is considered inappropriate, the social worker is responsible for ensuring that their wishes and feelings are made known to the meeting.

The social worker should inform the family members of the right to be accompanied by a legal representative, friend or advocate. NYAS offer support to all children who wish to attend or participate in a child protection case conference. A referral to NYAS for this purpose for all children 10 years and over is completed.

The social worker should notify the Conference Chair as soon as the pre conference report has been authorised by the Team Manager. This should be at least 3 working days prior to the date of the conference.

The social worker should also share the report with the parent/carer and the child (where of an age and understanding) at least 24 hours prior to the date of the conference and note their comments.

The social worker should ensure that they advise the parent/carer and child (where of an age and understanding) to arrive 30 minutes prior to the agreed time of the conference to assist in meeting the conference Chair.

Child Protection Conference

The conference will decide whether there is a need for a multi agency child protection plan, and which category of abuse or neglect the child has suffered or is a risk of suffering.

When the Initial Child Protection Conference is held a decision maybe made that a Child Protection Plan (see Knowsley Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual, Multi-Agency Child Protection Standards) is required, the Conference Chair completes the conference outcomes and produces an Outline Child Protection Plan. (See Knowsley Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual, Multi-Agency Child Protection Standards.) A date for the first Core Group Meeting is set at the conference (within 10 working days), and a scheduled date of the first review conference in ICS (within 3 months) (see Knowsley Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual, Multi-Agency Child Protection Standards).

Where there is to be a child protection plan, specific tasks for the conference include:

  • Appointing the key worker, who should be a qualified social worker;
  • Identifying the membership of a core group of professionals and family members who will develop and implement the child protection plan as a detailed working tool;
  • Establishing how the child, their parents (including all those with parental responsibility) and wider family members should be involved in the ongoing assessment, planning and implementation process, and the support, advice and advocacy available to them;
  • Establishing timescales for meetings of the core group, production of a child protection plan, and for child protection review meetings - at least every 4 weeks;
  • Identifying in outline what further action is required to complete the Single Assessment, and what other specialist assessments of the child and family are required to make sound judgements on how best to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child;
  • Outlining the child protection plan - in particular, identifying what needs to change in order to achieve the planned outcomes to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child and agreeing how the Core Group will be able to measure those changes;
  • Ensuring a contingency plan is in place if agreed actions are not completed and/or circumstances change - e.g. if a caregiver fails to achieve what has been agreed, a court application is not successful or a parent removes the child from a place of safety;
  • Establishing alternative carers for the child through organising a Family Group meeting;
  • Clarifying the different purpose and remit of the initial conference, the Core Group and the Child Protection Review Conference; and
  • Agreeing a date for the first Child Protection Review Conference, and under what circumstances it might be necessary to convene the conference before that date.

There should be a separate child protection plan for each child concerned.

The key worker is responsible for informing any parent/carer and competent child who did not attend the conference of the decisions made and for ensuring that they are understood.

The conference will be recorded by a Safeguarding Children Unit administrator. The outline plan will be circulated to all those invited to the conference within one working day subject to sign off by the Chair of the conference, with the full notes following within a maximum of 15 working days.

Any copies of notes for the family will be sent to them by the QAU, but the key worker should discuss them with the family to ensure that they are understood and to note any comment.

The due date of the first review conference (3 months from Initial conference) is automatically generated in the system and is visible in ICS in the outcomes form completed by the Conference Chair. The arrangement of the initial Core Group meeting and writing of the Child Protection Plan become workflow items in the social worker’s tray.

The Conference Chair completes the outcome of the conference on ICS workflow within 1 working day. Minutes of the conference should be completed in QAU with sign off by Chair within 15 working days of the conference. 

The Team Manager will chair the initial Core Group meeting and the Core Group Members develop the Child Protection Plan from the outline provided by the Conference Chair. Once it has been completed, it’s authorisation by the Team Manager generates a workflow item in the QAU work tray of organising the review conference and in the social workers work tray of writing the review conference report.

Four weeks in advance of the next Child Protection review the social worker provides a list of review invitees to the Quality Assurance Unit Business Support who arranges the review conference on the scheduled date. The Conference Chair should advise the relevant Team Manager if it does not take place on schedule.

Five days before the review, the Conference Chair should check that the Child Protection Plan has been updated, and that the social worker’s review report is available. If the review report is not available, this issue must be raised with the Team Manager and if it can still not be resolved, this should be raised with the relevant Head of Service, who should address the matter. If the issue is not resolved, this should be drawn to the attention of the Assistant Director. A social workers review report must be completed for every Child Protection review.

Only in exceptional circumstances should an adjournment beyond the scheduled date take place and can only be agreed by the Head of Service Safeguarding. If the meeting is adjourned the review must be held within the 3 month date.

If system issues or the absence of an authorised Child Protection Plan or review report prevent the recording of the review outcomes by the Conference Chair on the day, the discussion should be documented and recorded on an ICS review record template, and the information transferred into the system at the first possible date. Reviews whose outcomes cannot be recorded will be noted in the Child Protection audit spreadsheet and the relevant Heads of Service and Assistant Director notified.

At the review conference it maybe decided that there is an ongoing need for a Child Protection plan also the scheduled time and date of next review meeting are agreed and set in ICS by the Conference Chair. The task of updating the Child Protection Plan is generated by the system and placed in the social workers work tray. Once this has been completed and authorised, the task of arranging the next review appears in the Quality Assurance Unit work tray. The due date of the next review is generated automatically and appears in ICS in the outcomes form completed by the IRO. The BSA in QAU enters the date and time in Central Review as a meeting, as before.

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