Involvement of parents at child protection conferences

The Co-ordinator, Children Services will consider and rule on requests that a parent be excluded from the child protection conference.

The Co-ordinator, Children Services will consider the need to meet with the staff attending the child protection conference prior to its commencement and before the parents are invited in, to confirm if any one needs to share information prior to the parents joining the conference. This should be the exception and such discussions should be brief and limited only to information which must be restricted. Agencies invited are asked to intimate prior to the conference whether this will be necessary.

Alternatively, if there are significant amounts of information to be shared which, if shared with the parents or carers, might jeopardise any legal proceedings, parents or carers would be excluded from this part of the conference but attend the remainder of the meeting.

The reasons for parents’ or carers’ exclusion should be explained to them prior to the case conference.

In all other circumstances parents will join the child protection conference immediately.

Where a parent has been excluded from the child protection conference, the Co-ordinator, Children Services must ensure that the decisions of the conference are fed back to the parents as soon as is practical after the child protection conference.

The social worker must prepare parents for the child protection conference by explaining its purpose and format. It should be explained that the child protection conference is not a legal forum. An explanatory leaflet should be given to the parents by the social worker.

The social worker should advise the parents that they can bring a person of their choice to the child protection conference for support.

Parents must be clearly advised by the Co-ordinator, Children Services of any expectation the child protection conference has of them.

Where parents attend the full child protection conference they should receive a copy of the full minute.

When parents attend part of the child protection conference the Co-ordinator, Children Services should send them a summary of the discussion and decisions.