What is child protection?

If a social worker assesses your case and thinks there is a risk of harm to any child living with you, they may hold a child protection conference and create a child protection plan. This does not mean that your children will be taken from you, but it is important to follow the child protection plan. If you cannot understand it or cannot follow it, tell your Children’s social worker as soon as possible so they can change it.

What is a child protection plan?

A child protection plan should set out clear actions which aim to ensure the child will be kept safe and well. If there is a concern that the child is at risk of significant harm, the conference may decide that a child protection plan is necessary. In the conference meeting, an outline of the child protection plan will be written together and this will:

  • identify clearly the type of harm that the child is likely to suffer (for example, witnessing domestic abuse).
  • Set out the specific actions that are needed to protect the child.
  • Set out how the child will be cared for.
  • Make clear who (which professional, service or family member) is responsible for doing what to protect the child, and within what timescale.

After the meeting, this will be developed into a full child protection plan by the ‘core group’ (family members and professionals). The core group will also meet regularly to make sure the plan is carried out. A lead social worker will be appointed to the case and the support they offer will also be included in the child protection plan. It should set out:

  • When and in what situations the child will be seen by the social worker
  • How the social worker and other practitioners will support the child and family
  • A clear explanation about what will happen if the plan is not kept to. This may mean that children’s services will consider starting care proceedings if the child is considered to be suffering significant harm.

What is a child protection conference?

A formal meeting between a child’s family and children’s services. If the child is old enough, they may attend where appropriate, and other professionals who know the child may also attend (e.g. their teacher or doctor). Children’s services will prepare a report before the conference. This includes: a description of the family’s situation, family’s needs and social worker’s recommendations about how to keep the child safe and well cared for.

What should the social worker do before the Child Protection conference?

  • The social worker should give the family a copy of the report before the conference.
  • The social worker should take time to explain the recommendations to the family.
  • The social worker should explain to the child and their parents what will happen at the conference and who will be there.
  • Children’s services should give the parents and the child information about local advocacy services.
  • The parents should be able to bring an advocate, friend or solicitor to the conference if they want to. If the parents bring a solicitor to a conference, they can assist the parent but are not a full participant. For example, they could help by clarifying a point that has been made by the conference chair.
  • If a child is attending, they can bring an advocate.
  • The conference chair should meet the parents before the conference starts to make sure they understand why it is being held and what will happen.

Common Questions

My partner has told me the children will be taken if I report the abuse. Is this true?

A social worker has contacted me about domestic abuse - what can I do?

Could my children be removed from me?

I can't read or write, what support can I get?

Is it important to have a 'safety word' with your social worker?

What is a Merlin report?

How can I get an advocate to support me?

If my husband promises not to be abusive, can I let him back into the home?

Who is Family Rights Group?

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