4.3 Initial Child Protection Conference (ICPC)
Last updated 23/09/2021
LSCB AGENCIES RESPONSIBILITIES
The aim of the Child Protection Conference is to enable those practitioners most involved with the child and family, and the family themselves, to assess all relevant information, and plan how best to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child who may be suffering, or to be at risk of suffering significant harm.
All agencies must make it a priority that staff are competent to contribute to child protection conferences by:
- Sharing of information
- Assessing a child’s needs, and any continuing risk to which a child may be subject;
- Preparing adequately for conferences, including the provision of reports, sometimes at short notice;
- Attending when invited to conferences; and attending as scheduled child protection review conferences;
- Contributing to well-informed decisions based on evidence
- Following up fully on agreed action to safeguard the child.
All conference attendees should have attended LSCB Working Together to Safeguard Children training course prior to attending conference.
PURPOSE OF INITIAL CONFERENCE
The initial child protection conference brings together family members the child where appropriate, supporters/advocates and those practitioners most involved with the child and family following a s47 enquiry. Its purpose is to:
- Share and analyse, in an inter-agency setting, the information which has been obtained about the child’s developmental needs, and the parents’ 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 future and decide whether the child is at continuing risk of significant harm;
- Decide what future action is required e.g. whether a child protection plan is needed, to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child, how that action will be taken forward, and with what intended outcomes;
- Allocate a key worker for each child who requires a child protection plan. The key worker is responsible for ensuring that the child protection plan is developed, co-ordinated and fully implemented to timescale;
- Identify a multi-agency Core Group to develop and monitor implementation of the child protection plan.
CONVENING AN INITIAL CONFERENCE
An initial child protection conference must be convened when it is believed that a child, including an unborn child, is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm.
The conference must consider all the children in the household, even if concerns are only being expressed about one child.
The Children’s Social Care Manager is responsible for making the decision to convene a child protection conference and the reasons for calling the conference must be recorded. The IRO has the right to challenge this request in line with the LSCB threshold.
A conference can be convened if requested by a practitioner, supported by a senior manager/named or designated professional when they have concerns where the thresholds for significant harm has been met. In cases of escalation where there is disagreement between the referring agency and Children’s Social Care, this request can be made directly to the Safeguarding Unit.
The Initial Child Protection Conference should take place within 15 working days of:
- The Strategy Discussion/Meeting, or, the last Strategy Discussion/Meeting, if more than one was held, or
- Notification by another local authority that a child subject to a child protection plan has moved into the borough.
The initial child protection conference should, where possible, be held before expiry of an Emergency Protection Order, if further legal action is not planned.
Where a Child Assessment Order has been made the conference should be held immediately on conclusion of examinations and assessments.
Where there is delay, this must be reported to the Children’s Services manager (including reasons for the delay) and Safeguarding Service Manager. Children’s Services must ensure that any risks to the child are monitored and that any necessary safeguarding action is taken.
Social Care need to provide a written report to the parents/carers 3 working days before the ICPC. Other agencies need to provide a written report to the ICPC and ensure that this has been discussed with the parents/carers prior to the meeting. (See Child Protection Report Template and 7 Minute Briefing)
The ICPC uses Signs of Safety methodological approach to identify what is going well, what we are worried about and what we want to see happen (children’s outcomes), and who is responsible, with clear timescales. The child’s voice and lived experience must be fully understood and form a basis to decisions made at the Conference.
It is the ICPC Chair’s responsibility to ensure that a discussion takes place with regard to whether all the agencies who should be in attendance are in attendance, and included in any subsequent Core Group meetings. Any lack of attendance by an agency who are critical to a plan should be escalated to the agency using IRO informal and formal practice alert procedure.
If a decision is taken that the child is at continuing risk of significant harm and hence in need of a child protection plan, the chair should determine which category of abuse or neglect the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering. The category used (that is physical, emotional, sexual abuse or neglect) will indicate to those consulting the child’s social care record the primary presenting concerns at the time the child became the subject of a child protection plan.
The need for a Child Protection Plan should be considered separately in respect of each child in the family or household.
The IRO must ensure a contingency plan is in place if agreed actions are not completed and/or circumstances change, for example 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. It is a shared responsibility of the IRO and the partnership to ensure the family fully understand the consequences of not engaging with the CP plan and the LA’s contingency plan.
The child protection plan may be used as evidence, in any legal proceedings, of the efforts that have been made to work in partnership. This must be made clear to parents.
If a child is made subject of a CP plan, it is the Chair’s responsibility to ensure the parents and the partnership (and children where appropriate) are provided with a copy of the outline CP plan within 24 hours of the meeting.
The minutes of the meeting should be appropriately distributed within 15 working days of the ICPC. These minutes can be challenged with the IRO or Senior IRO within 10 working days of receipt.
Relevant sections of the minutes should be explained to and discussed with the child by the Children’s Services key social worker.
The conference chair should decide whether a child should be given a copy of the minutes. The minutes may be supplied to a child’s legal representative on request.
Where parents and/or the child/ren have a sensory disability or where English is not their first language, the key social worker should ensure that they receive appropriate assistance to understand and make full use of the minutes.
Conference minutes are confidential and should not be passed to third parties without the consent of either the conference chair or order of the court.
In criminal proceedings the police may reveal the existence of child protection records to the Crown Prosecution Service and in care proceedings the records of the conference may be revealed in the court.
The record of the decisions of the child protection conference should be retained by the recipient agencies in accordance with their record retention policies.
AGREEING THE PLAN WITH THE CHILD
The child protection plan should be explained to and agreed with the child in a manner which is in accordance with their age and understanding. An interpreter should be used if the child’s level of English means that s/he is not able to participate fully in these discussions unless they are conducted in her/his own language. The child should be given a copy of the plan written at a level appropriate to his or her age and understanding, and in his or her preferred language.
AGREEING THE PLAN WITH PARENTS/CARERS
Parents should be clear about the evidence of significant harm which resulted in the child becoming the subject of a child protection plan, what needs to change, and about what is expected of them as part of the plan for safeguarding and promoting the child’s welfare. All parties should be clear about the respective roles and responsibilities of family members and different agencies in implementing the plan. The parents should receive a written copy of the plan so that they are clear about who is doing what when and the planned outcomes for the child. The plan should be constructed with the family in its preferred language.