Child Protection Conference Chairs Challenge Process


This chapter details the process by which the chairs of Child Protection Conferences must seek to address shortfalls with the child protection system in order to improve and maintain good outcomes for children. The process allows for three levels to ensure any concerns are appropriately dealt with. The Challenge Process might be initiated prior to the Conference, during initial discussions between the lead practitioner and chair.

The chapter has a 'Child Protection Challenge Log Sheet' to facilitate the challenge process.


Independent Reviewing Officers (IRO) and Child Protection Chairs (CP) Practice Standards - Monitoring of the Child’s Case


This chapter was updated in July 2017 to advise that IROs are required to report to the Quality Assurance Officer to ensure the ICS Challenge template is also entered onto the Challenge Log.

1. Introduction

Child Protection Conference chairs have a key role and responsibility in managing the Child Protection Conference process in a manner that engages parents; promotes children and young people's participation and contributes to the development of the highest standards of multi-agency safeguarding practice. This will ensure that children and young people in Knowsley receive high quality safeguarding services in line with national legislation, policy and procedures.

This will therefore require both support and challenge to all practitioners attending Child Protection Conferences. The manner in which this challenge is undertaken is crucial to securing better outcomes for children and improving multi-agency front line practice.

This guidance has been developed to ensure that all professionals are aware of the challenge process and to ensure that any challenge made by Child Protection Conference chairs in the Quality Assurance Unit is appropriate, measured and results in practice improvement and better outcomes for children. It should be read in conjunction of the Knowsley Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures, Multi Agency Escalation Policy.

Prior to formally engaging in this challenge process, there is an expectation that dialogue will be undertaken by the chair with the relevant practitioner which in most cases will avoid the need to use this process. If however the matter cannot be resolved the child protection chair will follow the challenge process as outlined below.

2. Cause for Concern (Informal Stage)

These will be issues that the Chair has concerns in relation to the drift/delay in the Child Protection Plan or anything else in relation to the child which gives cause for concern. This is the informal stage before the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) or Conference Chair, actions the formal dispute resolution process. Within 3 working days.

Level 1 – challenge with practitioner and their line manager e.g. Health Visitor and named nurse for safeguarding children or Social Worker and Team Manager in Children's Social Care

It is expected that Child Protection Conference chairs will prepare for conferences by reading all reports provided by agencies and interrogating the child's file on the electronic social care record. They may contact a practitioner to clarify any issues or concerns raised from this preparatory work; consequently the challenge and support process may start before the Child Protection Conference takes place. It is also therefore crucial that practitioners/case workers contact the designated chair to discuss any concerns or practice difficulties before the conference. This will allow for any problems or difficulties to be resolved before the conference if possible. During the conference, chairs will also seek clarification and challenge any emerging shortfalls in practice. This will be done in a constructive manner to drive standards and improve outcomes for children and young people. As part of this challenge process, chairs may identify issues that require the attention of the practitioner's line manager. This can be done verbally but must also be followed up in writing using the Child Protection (CP) challenge log. Line managers will be expected to reply to the CP chair within 3 working days.

Level 2 – challenge with senior manager or SCP representative e.g. senior manager, Children in Need Children's Social Care, designated Doctor for safeguarding or Superintendent, Knowsley police

If the response received from the relevant line manager does not address the concerns to the satisfaction of the chair, contact will then be made with the senior manager or SCP representative. This can be done by telephone but must be followed up in writing by using the CP challenge log. The senior manager or SCP representative will be expected to respond to the CP chair within 3 working days.

Level 3 – escalation directly to senior manager or SCP representative e.g. as for level 2

Only in exceptional circumstances will the chairs contact the senior manager or SCP representative at Level 1. This may be where there are serious concerns regarding the practice of a professional or manager, where a strategic response is required to address a failure in the child protection system and/or where there are recurring issues regarding practitioners and managers. It will be expected that these issues will have been discussed with the senior manager in the Quality Assurance Unit before this direct contact is made.

3. Recording

Child Protection Conference chairs will record on the electronic Social Care record that a challenge has been made by recording this as a case note. They will also complete the CP challenge template which is loaded on to ICS. IRO/CP Chairs are all expected to report to the Safeguarding Quality Assurance Officer to ensure it goes onto the Challenge Log Sheet.

Appendix 1: CP Challenge Log Sheet

Click here to view Appendix 1: CP Challenge Log Sheet.