Skip to main content

Child Protection Case Conferences

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in May 2018. Section 10, Attendance at a Child Protection Case Conference, information was added with regards to the Team Manager must ensure that in advance of the Case Conference his/her views about the case are discussed with the Child Protection Case Conference Chairperson.

Also at Section 10, Attendance at a Child Protection Case Conference the following was added, 'Prior to a Child Protection Case Conference the social worker should ascertain from the AHP Professional Lead/Head of Service, Health Visitor or GP, what professionals have been involved with the child/young person, for example, if there has been any paediatric or Allied Health Professional involvement'.

After Senior Social Worker/Team Leader, Family and Child Care Team the following was added, 'Non-attendance of the Senior Social Worker/Team Leader must only take place in exceptional circumstances or where there is a requirement to attend court. In these exceptional circumstances non-attendance of the Team Manager must be approved by the Service Manager/Head of Service'. 'Senior Social Work Practitioners can deputise for a Team Manager in such circumstances'.

Additionally at Section 10, Attendance at a Child Protection Case Conference after 'Relevant Police Officer from the Public Protection Unit', the following was added, 'Invitations should be sent electronically via CJSM to the PSNI Central Referral Unit providing details of the HSC Trust area; subjects name; investigating officer (if known); and context of the Child Protection Case Conference'.

After 'Named Paediatrician for Child Protection/Paediatrician with knowledge of the child/young person' the following was included, 'However in some specific circumstances where the child/young person is not known, consideration can be given to inviting a Community Paediatrician if Public Health Nursing and/or Social Services are concerned that there is impairment of the child/young person's health or development resulting from abuse and have a view that Paediatric input would be of benefit. In such situations this should be discussed with the Community Paediatrician in advance of the Child Protection Case Conference and their view sought on the potential benefit of their input to the Child Protection Case Conference and/or whether they have a role in assessing the child/young person'.

At Section 11, Quorum the following was added at the end of the second paragraph, 'The HSC Trust Safeguarding Children Nurse Specialist is a separate discipline when considering if a Child Protection Case Conference is quorate'.

Also at Section 11, Quorum the last paragraph was amended to read 'A decision to place a child/young person's name on the Child Protection Register cannot be made in these situations', was changed to, 'A decision to place a child/young person's name on the Child Protection Register cannot be made if a Child Protection Case Conference does not proceed.'

At Section 17, Information for the Child Protection Case Conference the following was added in the first paragraph, 'The social worker should make contact with all professionals invited to attend a Child Protection Case Conference to obtain information to incorporate into the relevant section of the UNOCINI Child Protection Assessment Report'.

1. Child Protection Case Conferences

The Child Protection Case Conference is central to the child protection process. It is a multi-disciplinary/multi-agency meeting that brings together the family and professionals in relation to child protection concerns regarding a child/young person and family situation and provides them with an opportunity to exchange information and plan together.

With the exception of decisions on registration and de-registration, it is not an executive body. The results of the discussion are recommendations to individual agencies for action. The decision to implement the recommendations must rest with the individual agency concerned. Nevertheless, it is expected that individual agencies attending Conferences would commit themselves to a course of action which is within their authority. Any deviation from the recommendations should not be made, except in an emergency, without informing the other agencies involved, through the Chairperson.

2. Criteria for Convening an Initial Child Protection Case Conference

An Initial Child Protection Case Conference will be convened in the following circumstances:

  • Where the concerns are substantiated after a Child Protection Investigation and the child/young person is assessed to be at continuing risk of significant harm;
  • Following information that a child/young person is in regular contact with person of concern and it is deemed that the child/young person may be at risk of significant harm;
  • Where a child/young person has abused another child/young person and there is evidence that the young person committing the abuse is at risk of significant harm or has been abused;
  • When a child/young person moves into, or is born into, a household where a child/young person's name is currently on the Child Protection Register, or has died or has been seriously injured as a result of suspected abuse;
  • When consideration is being given to a child/young person's return to the community from a 'Looked After' placement or period in hospital and their name was on the Register immediately prior to being Looked After or admitted to hospital;
  • Where a woman is pregnant and there is a need to consider serious potential risk to the unborn child and plan protective action prior to the birth of the child. If a decision is made to Register the unborn child, this will come into effect at the birth of the child;
  • When a child/young person from another Health and Social Care Trust (HSC Trust) or is from outside the jurisdiction who is subject to a Child Protection Plan moves into an HSC Trust area.

3. Convening of a Child Protection Case Conference

A Child Protection Case Conference should be convened by the HSC Trust, when it is clear either during or following an investigation that a decision has to be made on whether or not to place the child/young person's name on the Child Protection Register.

Senior managers of HSCT staff (Family and Child Care Programme) are designated to act as conveners and Chairpersons of Child Protection Case Conferences as social services have a lead role in the protection of children/young people and manage the Child Protection Register.

Any agency may request an initial Child Protection Case Conference by contacting the appropriate Service Manager (8a and above), who will normally comply with such a request where the circumstances of the case appear to meet the criteria for convening an initial Child Protection Case Conference. Should the Service Manager (8a and above) decide not to arrange an initial Case Conference he/she should respond in writing to the agency concerned stating the reasons.

If the professional or agency is still of a view that an initial Child Protection Case Conference is required, this request should be escalated through their line management structure.

4. Functions of an Initial Child Protection Case Conference

The Initial Child Protection Case Conference brings together the family members and professionals from the agencies that work with children/young people and have child protection responsibilities to:

  • Share and evaluate the information gathered during the investigation;
  • Assess whether the child/young person is at risk of significant harm using the UNOCINI Assessment Framework;
  • Determine if the child/young person's name is to be placed on the Child Protection Register and the category of registration;
  • Agree an inter-agency Child Protection Plan for the future needs of the child/young person if the child/young person's name is placed on the Child Protection Register. This should include supportive services to the child/young person and the family;
  • Agree a review date within 3 months if the child/young person's name is placed on the Child Protection Register;
  • If subject to registration, agree the arrangements for the completion of a UNOCINI Child Protection Pathway Assessment;
  • Consider the provision of services to the child/young person as a Child in Need and/or family support services if the child/young person's name is not placed on the Child Protection Register.

5. Risk Assessment and Analysis

The purpose of a risk assessment and analysis is to inform multi-agency decision making. It is designed to help clarify the issues in relation to the protection of the child/young person, to address the key questions in decision-making in situations where risk is present including what is the problem and how serious is it. Its use should allow the range of attendees at a Child Protection Case Conference and those caring for the child/young person to have a clearer understanding regarding the presenting child protection concerns and whether there are significant concerns that the abuse or neglect will occur, continue or reoccur (the risk assessment is part of the UNOCINI Child Protection Pathway Assessment). Other risk assessment tools may be used and will inform the UNOCINI Risk Assessment.

6. Timing

The Initial Child Protection Case Conferences must take place within 15 working days from the commencement of the Article 66 Investigation. If this is not possible, the reason for the delay should be recorded on the child/young person's case file and in the minutes of the Child Protection Case Conference. This record must be endorsed and 'signed-off' by the HSC Trust's Director of Social Services or their nominee.

7. Pre-Birth Child Protection Case Conference

A Pre-birth Child Protection Case Conference should be requested (between the 24th and 35th week of the pregnancy, unless the pregnancy has been concealed or circumstances where there are significant safeguarding concerns identified late in pregnancy) as soon as it is apparent that a child may be at risk of significant harm when born if:

  • The expectant mother is living with, or in contact with, a person who is known to have abused or neglected children;
  • The expectant mother has abused or neglected children;
  • The lifestyle (for example substance misuse which may impact on capacity to parent) of the expectant mother or other potential carer is such that the child may be at risk following the birth;
  • There are concerns about potential or actual parenting capacity.

The purpose is to plan co-ordinated action and services for the protection of the child at the time of birth based on the UNOCINI pre-birth risk assessment. (See Guidance for the Safeguarding Process Prior to and Immediately after the Birth of a Baby where there may be Risks of Significant Harm).

The Pre-birth Child Protection Case Conference can decide to place the child's name on the Child Protection Register when born and formulate a Child Protection Plan without a further Child Protection Case Conference. A Review Child Protection Case Conference should be held within 3 months of the Pre-birth Child Protection Case Conference.

The Pre-birth Child Protection Case Conference will be conducted in the same way as the Initial Child Protection Case Conference. In addition to membership of the Child Protection Case Conference as identified in Section 10, Attendance at a Child Protection Case Conference, midwives (hospital and community), the obstetrician and the health visitor should also be invited.

The Chair of the Child Protection Case Conference should ensure that all those invited to the Pre-birth Child Protection Case Conference are notified of the birth.

See the following:

8. Venues for Child Protection Case Conferences

The venue, date and time of the Child Protection Case Conference should be agreed, where possible, to facilitate the attendance of family members as appropriate and staff/professionals who are involved, or likely to be involved, in the implementation of the Child Protection Plan and completion of the Child Protection Pathway Assessment. Particular attention should also be paid to accessibility for the parent and/or child/young person and staff for example issues of disability, including room layout. They may need to take account of those with dependents for example in relation to school pick up times. Where any participant has a disability or other special needs, particular consideration will have to be given to the suitability of the venue in terms of physical access, communication environment and the availability of any necessary supports.

9. Chairing Child Protection Case Conferences

A Child Protection Case Conference must be chaired by a Social Work Manager/Independent Chair (band 8a and above). The Chairperson should have knowledge and expertise in child protection, and skills in chairing Child Protection Case Conferences.

The main responsibilities of the Chairperson are to ensure that:

  • Criteria to convene an initial Child Protection Case Conference have been met;
  • The Child Protection Case Conference maintains a focus on the child/young person, whose interests are paramount;
  • The purpose of the Child Protection Case Conference is clear;
  • There is appropriate management of the information presented to the Child Protection Case Conference and members of the Child Protection Case Conference understand the confidential nature of the information being discussed;
  • All relevant people, including parent or child/young person, are invited and are encouraged/facilitated to contribute to the Child Protection Case Conference. The Chair should ensure that appropriate arrangements have been made for those with communication support needs and appropriate strategies have been put in place to address any issues relating to the ability of individuals to understand the proceedings;
  • Written reports are considered by the Child Protection Case Conference;
  • The Child Protection Case Conference takes the necessary decisions;
  • Parents and the child/young person are made aware of the decision to place a child/young person's name on the Child Protection Register and the purpose of the Register. The method of communicating needs to be appropriate to the age and capacity of the parent and child/young person;
  • Membership of the Core Group is identified (see Section 10, Attendance at a Child Protection Case Conference);
  • A written minute is taken of the Child Protection Case Conference which records those participating, apologies, absentees, brief details of the discussion, the decision and recommendations, and its circulation agreed;
  • The decision to place a child/young person's name on the Child Protection Register is recorded on the child/young person's file and the Child Protection Register immediately after the Child Protection Case Conference.

10. Attendance at a Child Protection Case Conference

The Child Protection Case Conference should consist of the relevant number of people conducive to achieving its purpose but must be quorate. Those attending Child Protection Case Conferences should be there because they have a significant contribution to make, arising from professional expertise and/or knowledge of the child/young person, family and/or associated adults. There should be sufficient information and expertise available, through personal representation and written reports, to enable the Child Protection Case Conference to make an informed decision about what action is needed to protect and safeguard the child/young person and promote his/her welfare and to make realistic and workable proposals for taking that action forward.

The Team Manager must ensure that in advance of the Case Conference his/her views about the case are discussed with the Child Protection Case Conference Chairperson.

Attendance at a Child Protection Case Conference may be large in the early stages of work when a number of agencies may be contributing to the investigation, the assessment or case planning. Once a long-term plan has been formulated a smaller group of key workers from the agencies involved in the Child Protection Plan, including the Case Co-ordinator, should be identified as the Core Group who will work together to implement and review the plan.

Prior to a Child Protection Case Conference the social worker should ascertain from the AHP Professional Lead/Head of Service, Health Visitor or GP, what professionals have been involved with the child/young person, for example if there has been any paediatric or Allied Health Professional involvement.

Attendance at a Child Protection Case Conference for such purposes as maintaining an overview of child protection work or supervising, managing or monitoring an agency's subsequent input into the case should be discouraged. However, supervisors may need to accompany staff as required.

The following persons should always be invited to the Initial Child Protection Case Conference, as appropriate:

  • Parents/those with parental responsibility;
  • Those caring for the child/young person;
  • Child/young person;
  • Interpreters/sign language interpreters, support person for a person with a disability;
  • Social Worker, Family and Child Care;
  • Senior Social Worker/Team Leader, Family and Child Care Team. Non-attendance of the Senior Social Worker/Team Leader must only take place in exceptional circumstances or there is a requirement to attend court. In these exceptional circumstances non-attendance of the Team Manager must be approved by the Service Manager/Head of Service. Senior Social Work Practitioners can deputise for a Team Manager in such circumstances';
  • Where the Senior Social Worker/Team Leader is unable to attend the Child Protection Case Conference, they should ensure that their views about the case are discussed with the Chair in advance of the Case Conference;
  • Relevant Police Officer from the Public Protection Unit. Invitations should be sent electronically via CJSM to the PSNI Central Referral Unit providing details of the HSC Trust area; subjects name; investigating officer (if known); and context of the Child Protection Case Conference;
  • Health visitor/Family Nurse and/or School Nurse;
  • Safeguarding Children Nurse Specialist;
  • General Practitioner (GP);
  • Named Paediatrician for Child Protection/Paediatrician with knowledge of the child/young person. However in some specific circumstances where the child/young person is not known, consideration can be given to inviting a Community Paediatrician if Public Health Nursing and/or Social Services are concerned that there is impairment of the child/young person's health or development resulting from abuse and have a view that Paediatric input would be of benefit. In such situations this should be discussed with the Community Paediatrician in advance of the Child Protection Case Conference and their view sought on the potential benefit of their input to the Child Protection Case Conference and/or whether they have a role in assessing the child/young person;
  • School Principal/Designated Teacher and/or class teacher in the case of a school-age child/young person (the Education Authority Designated Officer for Child Protection during school summer holidays).

Other personnel may need to be invited, as appropriate, e.g.:

  • Social workers from other programmes of care or another Trust area;
  • Trust Lead for Public Protection;
  • Trust Legal Advisor;
  • Consultant Psychiatrist;
  • Forensic Medical Officer;
  • Hospital Medical, Nursing and Social Work Staff;
  • Adult Mental Health, Medical, Nursing;
  • Allied Health Professional staff
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Medical, Nursing and Social Work staff;
  • Education Welfare Officer in the case of a child/young person of school age;
  • Probation Officer;
  • Prison Officer;
  • Youth Justice Agency Staff;
  • Representative from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive;
  • Representative of the Armed Services in cases where there is a service connection;
  • Relevant voluntary organisations;
  • Guardian Ad Litem;
  • Independent guardian for separated unaccompanied child/young person, child victim or potential child victim of Human Trafficking or Modern Slavery once these are established.

Those attending the Child Protection Case Conference should aim to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the Case Conference to allow time for any papers to be read and to avoid delay.

An agency wishing an observer to attend must contact the Chair of the Child Protection Case Conference at least 3 working days prior to the Child Protection Case Conference. There will not be more than one observer in attendance at any Case Conference. The social worker will be responsible for asking the parent/child/young person to give their permission for an observer to attend in advance of the Child Protection Case Conference and their response given to the Chair.

An observer may be permitted to attend a Child Protection Case Conference if they are a student on placement with agencies which have involvement in Child Protection. Permission from the Chairperson of the Child Protection Case Conference should be secured in advance and explained to parents/carers/child/young person in advance of attendance.

Professionals should inform the Case Co-ordinator if they have ceased involvement with the family/associated adult.

The Case Co-ordinator should review and update the Child Protection Case Conference invitation list with Core Group members at the Core Group meeting prior to each Child Protection Case Conference.

11. Quorum

Whilst it is inappropriate to fix a number for attendance at Child Protection Case Conferences, it is important that those attending are able to contribute from their professional knowledge base and/or knowledge of the child/young person and family. Decisions to register the child/young person onto the Child Protection Register should not be taken where the main professional referrer or his representative is not present. Ideally, substitutes should not be used except in exceptional circumstances.

To be a valid Child Protection Case Conference there should be, in addition to the Chairperson, representation from social services and at least two other agencies or disciplines with knowledge of or direct contact with the child/young person and/or family or person with specific child protection responsibilities. The HSC Trust Safeguarding Children Nurse Specialist is a separate discipline when considering if a Child Protection Case Conference is quorate.

This quorum may be breached if; under exceptional circumstances an agency representative is unable to attend but has submitted a written report. The Chair of the Child Protection Case Conference will be responsible for deciding, in partnership with members present and taking account of the best interests of the child/young person, to proceed with a Child Protection Case Conference if the quorum is not met. This should be recorded in the minutes. The Chairperson may also decide not to continue with a Child Protection Case Conference despite the attendance being quorate if he/she believes that critical information from any agency or professional is absent and the absence of such information could invalidate any Child Protection Case Conference decisions.

If the Child Protection Case Conference cannot proceed, those present must agree interim safeguarding arrangements to ensure that the child/young person is protected. This should be the exception rather than the rule. Another date for the Child Protection Case Conference must be arranged within 10 working days. The decision and reason not to proceed, along with interim safeguarding arrangements, must be recorded in the child/young person's case file and in the minutes of the reconvened Child Protection Case Conference. A decision to place a child/young person's name on the Child Protection Register cannot be made if a Child Protection Case Conference does not proceed.

12. Involvement of Parents/Carers in the Child Protection Case Conference

There is an underlying principle that parents/carers should be involved in all of the discussions and decision making about their child/young person. This is in accordance with Article 6 (Right to a Fair Trial) and Article 8 (Right to Private and Family Life) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Separate attendance should be considered where conflict between family members would severely disrupt the Child Protection Case Conference and prevent it from focusing on the protection of the child/young person (please refer to Section 14, Exclusion From Child Protection Case Conferences and Appeals Process in Relation to a Child Protection Registration).

The social worker should advise the parent(s) that they will be invited to attend all or part of the Child Protection Case Conference, subject to the Chairperson's decision about whether this might prejudice the interest of the child/young person.

Whether or not they attend, the parents/carers should be encouraged and supported by the social worker, to record their contribution in writing, or by other means, for the Child Protection Case Conference. This could be by letter, digital recording or representation on their behalf by a social worker or other professional.

If the parents/carers encounter difficulties, for example with child care, travel or finding a support person, every possible assistance should be given, in order to facilitate their attendance. Where difficulties arise, e.g. because of physical disability, learning disability, communication disability or sensory impairments, arrangements to facilitate attendance at the Child Protection Case Conference should be made. Consideration should be given to the appropriate means of communication, e.g. interpreters/registered signers/intermediaries.

The parents/carers should be invited to arrive at the Child Protection Case Conference venue at least fifteen minutes before the start to allow the Chairperson to advise them of the Child Protection Case Conference process, who will be present and their right to appeal against the decision of the Child Protection Case Conference. The Chairperson will take responsibility for introductions between the parents/carers and members of the Child Protection Case Conference ensuring that they are made aware of the professional roles of all participants and of the reason for their attendance.

Parents/carers should have the opportunity to say whether or not they agree with the issue(s) of concern. This can be done in a variety of ways, e.g. verbally by them or by a support person, a social worker on their behalf or by the Chairperson reading aloud their written contribution or by a combination of these.

In considering the involvement of parents/carers, thought may need to be given to ensure that the process:

  • Does not impede a criminal investigation; and
  • Contributes to a criminal investigation where it is appropriate to do so.

The Chairperson of the Case Conference will ensure that the parent/carers are advised of its outcome in writing within 14 working days. This will include the key elements of the Child Protection Plan if a decision has been made to place the child/young person's name on the Child Protection Register. Appropriate formats should be used for those who have a disability or specific communication need.

13. Involvement of the Child/Young Person in Child Protection Case Conferences

A child/young person should be permitted and encouraged to attend depending on their age, understanding and level of maturity. The child/young person may bring a friend or someone to support them if desired (as deemed appropriate). Any child/young person who chooses to attend should be prepared by the social worker. If a child/young person does not wish to attend, the social worker should enable him/her to submit their views in writing or by other means to the Child Protection Case Conference.

14. Involvement of Alleged Abusers in Child Protection Case Conferences

In the interests of natural justice, the alleged abuser (where they are a parent/carer) must be informed about the allegation (unless to do so would prejudice the welfare of a child/young person or potentially compromise a criminal investigation) and they and/or their representative given the opportunity either to attend the Child Protection Case Conference in its entirety or part, or make representation in writing.

The Child Protection Case Conference focus is on the child/young person's need for protection and his/her rights and a decision to invite a parent/carer who is an alleged abuser, must take into account the wishes and feelings of the child/young person, among other things, having regard to age and understanding.

Each case must be considered on its own merit and social work staff must balance their statutory duty to protect a child/young person from abuse against their duty of fairness to the alleged abuser. If an agency has concerns about confidential reports or believes that information in them could prejudice criminal investigations, this should be discussed with the chairperson and agreement reached about what may be shared.

Where there is conflict or disagreement in interests, the interests of the child/young person must remain paramount.

The outcome of the Child Protection Case Conference should be shared in writing with the alleged abuser (where they are a parent/carer) in so far as it relates to them.

15. Exclusion from Child Protection Case Conferences

Parents/carers and children/young people, where appropriate, should be invited to attend the whole of the Child Protection Case Conference. It is recognised, however, that there may be occasions when partial or total exclusion from the Child Protection Case Conference is necessary. This may include where they pose a risk of serious harm to any other family member and/or other attendees at the Child Protection Case Conference. The decision to exclude a person, parent/carer or child/young person from a Child Protection Case Conference rests with the Chairperson. Where a professional member of a Child Protection Case Conference has concerns about sharing confidential information or discussing sensitive issues with parents present, this should be brought to the attention of the Chairperson prior to the Child Protection Case Conference.

Those parents/carers who are excluded should be advised that they have the right to make representation to the Child Protection Case Conference by other methods, e.g. by letter, digital recording or representation on their behalf by a social worker or other professional.

The Chairperson will ensure that the parents/carers are informed in writing of the exclusion and the reason. They will also ensure that the decision is recorded in the child/young person's case file and the Child Protection Case Conference minutes.

The attendance of parents and children is to facilitate openness, partnership and co-operation. It must be noted that their presence should not prevent or seriously disrupt the Child Protection Case Conference from carrying out its primary task. If the Child Protection Case Conference is being seriously disrupted, it is the responsibility of the Chairperson to take any necessary action. This may include temporarily suspending it or even postponement to a later date.

Where the parent is not invited or not permitted to stay for the whole Child Protection Case Conference, they will be seen afterwards in order to be informed of the conclusions, decisions and recommendations by the Chairperson and other appropriate members of the Child Protection Case Conference. Where members of the family are excluded from all or part of the Conference, the reasons should be recorded in the minutes and the child/young person's file.

15.1 Partial Exclusion

Partial exclusion may occur at the discretion of the Chairperson in order to allow the Child Protection Case Conference to:

  • Receive confidential information about a third party;
  • Hear the views of one parent separately from the other parent;
  • Enable the child/young person to express their views separately from a parent(s);
  • Enable professionals to discuss the issue of registration where third party information is being used to inform this decision;
  • Allow the police to share information about a current criminal investigation and/or other information that may be known to police that is directly relevant to child protection decision-making in respect of the child/young person who is the subject of the Child Protection Case Conference.

15.2 Total Exclusion

In exceptional cases it may be necessary to exclude a parent from all of the Child Protection Case Conference. This is a significant deviation from established principles and practice and should apply only in circumstances when one of the following criteria applies:

  • Where there is evidence that the Child Protection Case Conference will be seriously disrupted by the presence of a parent(s) to the extent that the meeting will not be effective;
  • Where parental presence will create difficulties with police investigations or criminal proceedings;
  • Where conflict between parents, or parent(s) and child/young person, makes it impossible for all to attend;
  • Where a parent(s) is believed to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  • Where a parent(s) suffers from mental health difficulties which in the opinion of a mental health professional make it inadvisable for him/her to participate in the Child Protection Case Conference.
  • Where a parent presents a potential risk of serious harm to those in attendance at the Child Protection Case Conference.

16. Attendance of Friends or Supporters

A parent and child/young person must each be advised of their right to have a friend or supporter present at a Child Protection Case Conference in order to assist him/her with full participation – See Practice Guidance Regarding the Role of Support Persons at Child Protection Case Conferences, Looked After Reviews and Family Support Planning Meetings. A child/young person/parent/carer with a disability may benefit from the attendance of an advocate/friend or supporter.

The role of the friend or supporter is to speak on behalf of the parent or child/young person, having ascertained his/her view in advance of the meeting. The friend or supporter is not there to promote their own view. The Chairperson of the Child Protection Case Conference must be informed prior to the Child Protection Case Conference of the intention of the parent to bring a friend or supporter.

It is not the role of the friend or supporter to attend the Child Protection Case Conference in place of the parent or child/young person, but in exceptional circumstances, e.g. ill-health/emergency situation, the Chair may permit a support person to attend and take part in the Child Protection Case Conference in the absence of a parent but only with the prior agreement of the parent and the child/young person (if of appropriate age and understanding).

In exceptional circumstances the Chairperson may prevent a friend or supporter from attending a Child Protection Case Conference, e.g. where a person has a conviction, or has been cautioned for Relevant Offences (previously known as Schedule One Offences). A supporter may also be required to leave the Child Protection Case Conference if the Chairperson deems their presence to be disruptive.

The friend or supporter will not receive a copy of the Child Protection Case Conference minutes. However all solicitors will have access to these upon request.

17. Information for the Child Protection Case Conference

The investigating social worker must prepare a written report for the Child Protection Case Conference using the UNOCINI Assessment Framework. The report should be concise and provide all relevant information. The social worker should make contact with all professionals invited to attend a Child Protection Case Conference to obtain information to incorporate into the relevant section of the UNOCINI Child Protection Assessment Report.

The report must include:

  • Factual detail about the family, e.g. names, dates of births, address(es), schools, GP, legal status, a genogram of the family, extended family and the household;
  • A chronology of recent and historically significant events, agency and professional contact with the child/young person and family;
  • Details of the concerns that have led to consideration of the need for a Child Protection Plan;
  • Information on the child/young person's current and past state of health and development (including any disability or communication needs);
  • Relevant information with regard to child/young person's ethnicity and religion, sexual orientation, gender identity issues whilst ensuring respect for the child/young person's privacy;
  • Information on the capacity of the parents and other family members to ensure the child/young person's protection and safety from harm;
  • The expressed views, wishes and feelings of the child/young person, parents, and other family members;
  • Analysis of the implications of the information obtained and any risks for the child/young person's future safety;
  • Recommendations in relation to the question of Child Protection Registration and for the Child Protection Plan.

The social worker should provide a parent and child/young person where relevant, with a copy of the report at least two working days prior to the Child Protection Case Conference unless to do so may present a risk to the child/young person or another party. The report should be explained and discussed with the family in advance of the Child Protection Case Conference. The parent's and child/young person's agreement or disagreement with the content and any recommendation contained in the report should be recorded in the Child Protection Case Conference Report and minutes. Appropriate methods of communication should be used for parents and children/young people who have communication/language difficulties.

Other professionals invited to attend the Child Protection Case Conference should provide a written report summarising the details of their knowledge of and involvement with the family and other relevant information at least two working days prior to the Child Protection Case Conference. This information shared in advance should not be discussed or disclosed outside of the remit of the Child Protection Case Conference. Consideration should be given to the following areas where appropriate:

  • The child/young person's health and development, and developmental needs;
  • The child/young person's educational development needs. Social workers should request the annual school report generated at the end of the summer term from parents/carers;
  • Family and environmental factors;
  • The capacity of the parents to protect and safeguard the child/young person.

All agencies should endeavour to share the contents of the reports with all members, including parents, prior to the Child Protection Case Conference. If an agency has concerns about the confidential nature of the reports or believes that information in them has implications for a 'third party' or could prejudice continuing criminal investigations, this should be discussed with the Chairperson and agreement reached about what may be shared.

All those providing information must take care to distinguish between fact, observation, alleged and suspected cases of child abuse and opinion. Reports should highlight strengths as well as concerns and avoid jargon and unnecessary detail. Opinions and interpretations are important but must be evidenced.

There is an expectation of strict confidentiality and the Chairperson must emphasise to participants at the commencement of the Child Protection Case Conference and throughout it as necessary, that information exchanged at the Case Conference should not be disclosed or discussed outside the Child Protection Case Conference unless it is necessary in the interests and protection of the child/young person or others. Any information shared at the Case Conference for the purpose of child protection should not be used for any other purpose. The exception to this is in relation to police if information becomes available that suggests the possible commission of a crime. Information should not be removed without the prior permission of the author.

18. Child Protection Case Conference Agenda

The Chairperson is responsible for ensuring a systematic and ordered approach to the Child Protection Case Conference. The Child Protection Case Conference should be conducted using the following agenda:

  • Introductions and apologies received (including any necessary exclusions);
  • Detail of all written reports available to the Child Protection Case Conference;
  • Explanation of the Child Protection Case Conference process;
  • Sharing of information relevant to the function of the conference;
  • Analysis of the information shared;
  • Conclusion;
  • Decisions;
  • Recommendations and action plan.

19. Decisions and Actions of the Child Protection Case Conference

The Child Protection Case Conference should consider if the child/young person is at continuing risk of significant harm (the test to be applied is whether future significant harm is likely). This decision should be based on all available evidence obtained through existing records, the initial assessment and from inquiries and research. It should take into account the views of all agencies attending the Child Protection Case Conference and any written contributions.

Every effort should be made to reach mutually agreed decisions, recommendations and action. All professionals in attendance must consider and analyse the information presented and contribute to decision-making. Where there is a lack of consensus, a decision should be taken with the Chair having the final adjudication, considering all of the issues. The decision of the Child Protection Case Conference and the reasons for it must be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

It is recognised that each agency must retain the right to act independently within its own agency policies and procedures. Dissenting views on the decisions of the Child Protection Case Conference and the Child Protection Plan should be recorded in the minutes. Once decisions have been made each agency is expected to support and carry out the Child Protection Plan. Every effort should be made to establish the Child Protection Plan as a formal contract involving professionals, the family and the child/young person.

The Child Protection Case Conference must decide that either:

  • The child/young person is not at continuing risk of significant harm and therefore the child/young person's name will not be placed on the Child Protection Register. In these circumstances it may determine that the child/young person is a Child in Need for the Purposes of Article 18 and require the development of a Child in Need family support plan;
  • The child/young person is at continuing risk of significant harm and therefore their name should be placed on the Child Protection Register. The act of registration itself confers no protection on a child/young person and must be accompanied by a Child Protection Plan. The Child Protection Case Conference should determine under which category or categories of abuse the child/young person's name must be registered (see The Child Protection Register Policy and Procedure for registration categories). The category used in registration will indicate to those consulting the register the primary presenting concerns at the time of registration.

It is the responsibility of the Child Protection Case Conference to consider and make recommendations on how agencies, staff and family should work together to ensure that the child/young person will be protected and safeguarded from future harm. This should enable staff and the family to understand exactly what is expected of them and what they can expect of others. Specific tasks will include the following:

  • Appoint a Case Co-ordinator who will be a social worker who has been allocated case responsibility;
  • Establish the key elements of the Child Protection Plan and timescales for completion;
  • Identify the membership of the Core Group and agree the date of its first meeting which must be held within 10 working days of the Case Conference;
  • Establish if, and how, the child/young person, parents and wider family members should be involved in the process with consideration given to the need to convene a family group conference;
  • Identify what further specialist assessments of the child/young person and family are required and what specific supports may be required;
  • Consider the need for a contingency plan if circumstances change quickly;
  • Consider the circumstances in which it might be necessary to call a Child Protection Review Case Conference before the next review date;
  • Agree a first review date within 3 months and for subsequent reviews at least 6 monthly thereafter;
  • Agree who should be informed that the child/young person's name has been placed on the Child Protection Register.
Where a decision is made to place a child/young person's name on the Child Protection Register, this should be done immediately after the Child Protection Case Conference.

20. Keeping Parents and the Child/Young Person Informed

When a child/young person's name is placed on the Child Protection Register the Chairperson of the Child Protection Case Conference and the social worker should ensure that the parents and the child/young person (dependent on age and understanding) are informed of:

  • The reason for the decision;
  • How registration and the Child Protection Plan are linked;
  • The procedure for de-registration;
  • Where responsibility for decision-making lies;
  • The appeals process and the complaints procedure (see Appeals Process in Relation to a Child Protection Registration Procedure);
  • The procedure with regard to regular review of the child/young person's progress and assessed risk.
The decision not to place a child/young person's name on the Register must be confirmed in writing to the parents and the child/young person, if they are old enough, by the Chairperson within 14 working days of the Case Conference. The method of communicating needs to be appropriate to the age, ability/capacity and needs of the child/young person and parents.

21. Appeals and Complaints about a Child Protection Case Conference

For appeals which relate to decisions about placing a child/young person's name on the Child Protection Register, please refer to Appeals Process in Relation to a Child Protection Registration Procedure.

Complaints about individual agencies should be made to the relevant agency and responded to in accordance with that agency's complaints procedure.

If another Child Protection Case Conference participant has a complaint about the process of the Case Conference, he should discuss this with the Chairperson.

Where a member of the Child Protection Case Conference has a concern about an individual agency's representative they should, in the first instance, speak to the person concerned. If the outcome of this is not satisfactory they should discuss this with his line manager who should refer to the appropriate manager in the relevant agency.

22. Child Protection Case Conference Minutes

HSCTs are responsible for ensuring that all Child Protection Case Conferences they have convened have a dedicated person trained to take notes and produce minutes of the Child Protection Case Conference for approval by the Chairperson. The Child Protection Case Conference minutes will include:

  • A list of those present, apologies and those who did not attend;
  • The family composition;
  • The legal status of children/young people (if appropriate);
  • A record of any delay in convening the Child Protection Case Conference and the reasons;
  • A record of whether the parents were excluded, either totally or partially, and the reasons;
  • A record of written reports submitted to the Child Protection Case Conference including from those not present;
  • The essential facts of the case with information about each child/young person;
  • A summary of the discussion;
  • Identification of the family's strengths;
  • A summary of the assessment of risk and needs of each child/young person;
  • The decision on registration and the reasons for the decision;
  • The name(s) and designation(s) of anyone dissenting from the decision regarding registration and the reasons why;
  • An outline of the Child Protection Plan;
  • The names of the Case Co-ordinator and the Core Group;
  • If the child/young person's name is placed on the Child Protection Register, the category for registration and the date of the Review Child Protection Case Conference.

The Child Protection Case Conference minutes are provided to each person invited to attend the Case Conference, except where they have stated that they have no current or planned involvement with the family.

The minutes will be distributed within 15 working days by the Chairperson. Recipients are required within 7 working days to confirm receipt of the minutes. The minutes will be considered to be an accurate record of the meeting, unless objections are received by the Chairperson within 7 working days of receipt of the minutes.

The minutes of the Child Protection Case Conference are confidential and must not be shared with a third party without the consent of the Chairperson. In cases of criminal proceedings, however, the police are empowered to reveal the existence of these minutes to the Director of Public Prosecutions (Public Prosecution Service). They can also be released in respect of specified proceedings.

Agencies must ensure that they have arrangements to keep the records secure and that only those with a "need to know" have access to them.

One copy of the minutes will be sent to parents and, where appropriate, the child/young person, unless there are particular circumstances where to do so would be detrimental to the protection and safety of the child/young person or another adult. The information contained in each copy of the minutes may be different as there may be reason to restrict particular information from a copy issued to one parent (e.g. in cases where allegations have been made against a parent or third party information needs to be protected). Where an individual has been excluded from part of a Child Protection Case Conference, the copy of the minute that they receive should not contain any information from the part of the conference that they were excluded from.

The parents' and child/young person's copy/copies must be watermarked with the name of the recipient.

The responsibility of the parents regarding the confidentiality of the minutes should be emphasised by the Chairperson both at the Child Protection Case Conference and in written correspondence upon issue of the minutes.

The family friend or supporter will not receive a copy of the minutes.

23. The Core Group

At the conclusion of the Child Protection Case Conference the Chair will identify the Core Group and Case Co-ordinator, and agree the date for the first meeting of the Core Group. This meeting will be convened within 10 working days of the Initial Child Protection Case Conference.

24. Role of the Core Group

The Child Protection Case Conference Chair will outline the role of the Core Group as follows:

  • To operationalise and review the progress of the Child Protection Plan developed by the Child Protection Case Conference. The group will add necessary detail to the Child Protection Plan including: professional roles and responsibilities; the expectations of family members; and agreed tasks of work on an inter-agency basis;
  • To consider the implementation of the Child Protection Plan and the impact of changes which have occurred within the family situation; and if appropriate, respond to changes which indicate that the assessed level of risk needs to be re-assessed;
  • To share information and to assess the impact of the Child Protection Plan and actions undertaken with the children/family.

The Core Group and Case Co-ordinator, identified at the Child Protection Case Conference and identified in the minutes, are responsible for carrying out the inter-agency work outlined in the Child Protection Plan.

The Case Co-ordinator must be a social work practitioner (band 5, 6 or 7) and will chair the Core Group unless they are an Assessed Year in Employment (AYE) social worker. In this situation, the Social Work Manager (band 7) must chair the Core Group.

Parents/carers and the child/young person have an important role in contributing to the Child Protection Plan and should be invited to the Core Group meetings. Where necessary, parents and children/young people should be supported to enable them participate in Core Groups.

The purpose of the Core Group is to make sure that the Child Protection Plan is implemented and actions are effective in safeguarding the child/young person.

Core Group members identified at Child Protection Case Conferences should participate and contribute at Core Group meetings. If a Core Group member cannot attend they must provide the Case Co-ordinator (SW) in writing an update about their involvement and include information about progress made and any issues with implementation of the plan.

25. Frequency of Core Group Meetings

In the 3 month period between the Initial Child Protection Case Conference and the first Review Child Protection Case Conference:

  • The first Core Group meeting must occur within 10 working days from the Initial Child Protection Case Conference in order to formulate the full Child Protection Plan and agree tasks of work on an inter-agency basis;
  • The second should occur 6 weeks after the Initial Child Protection Case Conference.

In the 6 month period between Review Child Protection Case Conferences:

  • There should be a minimum of 2 Core Group meetings. The suggested intervals are at 2 and 4 months.

Whilst these are the minimum level of Core Group meetings required; more frequent meetings will be determined by need and professional judgment, for example:

  • Pre-proceedings process or on-going court proceedings;
  • If a professional has concerns about the level of parental cooperation;
  • If the Initial Child Protection Case Conference / Review Child Protection Case Conference decide that the complexity of the case requires more frequent Core Group meetings.

26. Recording of the Core Group Meeting

The Core Group meeting must be recorded on the UNOCINI Core Group Meeting Record template and copies given to professionals, parents/carers and child/young person at the end of the meeting. A typed record will be distributed to those present within 15 working days and a copy retained on the child/young person's file.

27. Role of the Case Co-ordinator

The Case Co-ordinator must ensure that:

  • The child/young person must be seen at a minimum of at least every 4 weeks during the period of registration;
  • Child protection visits are purposeful;
  • They must undertake work with the child/young person's and parents/carers as outlined in the Child Protection Plan.

The Case Co-ordinator should review and update the Child Protection Case Conference invitation list with the members of the Core Group at the Core Group meeting prior to each Case Conference.

28. Role of the Social Work Manager

The Social Work Manager (band 7) or senior social work practitioner (band 7) will be available to provide consultation and advice to the Case Co-ordinator (the social work manager will provide monthly supervision of the Case Co-ordinator).

The Social Work Manager may decide to chair a Core Group meeting following discussion with the Case Co-ordinator. This decision will be based on, for example:

  • Complexity of the case and risk;
  • Where there is concern about the level of parental cooperation and/or the level of professional agreement;
  • Where there are concerns about the effectiveness of the Child Protection Plan;
  • Cases where there are pre-proceedings or court processes on-going.

29. Dissent in Core Groups

Where there are professional disagreements about the role and function of the Core Group or its members in relation to a case:

  • The Case Co-ordinator must notify their line manager and Child Protection Case Conference Chairperson and if resolution to the disagreement cannot be achieved by intervention of Core Group member's line management, an urgent Child Protection Case Conference must be convened;
  • Other multi-agency/multi-disciplinary professionals must escalate concerns through their respective line management.

30. Participation of Parents, Children/Young People in Core Groups

In defining the membership of the Core Group the Child Protection Case Conference will also establish if, and how, the child/young person, parents and wider family members should be involved in the process. Parents/carers and the child/young person may have an important role in contributing to the Child Protection Plan.

Parents/carers should be invited to all Core Group meetings with the exception of those excluded from attending by the Child Protection Case Conference Group. The Case Co-ordinator should advise a parent that they can invite a support person to accompany them to assist with their full participation.

Parents'/carers' views should be represented and recorded at the Core Group meetings. Interpreters should be provided when required. Exclusions from Child Protection Case Conferences are outlined in other sections of these policy and procedures (see Section 15, Exclusion From Child Protection Case Conferences).

Where a parent/carer is unable, excluded, or chooses not to attend the Core Group meeting the Case Co-ordinator must consider alternate arrangements to ascertain and facilitate the views of the parent and the parents' views must be recorded.

Where appropriate a child/young person, depending on age, understanding and level of maturity, should be facilitated to attend the Core Group meeting to enable the meeting to hear from the child/young person how they are experiencing the Child Protection Plan. Where a child/young person is attending the Chair must ensure:

  • The child/young person's attendance is purposeful; and must consider if there is value in the child/young person attending all or part of the meeting;
  • If the child/young person wishes, they can bring a friend or someone to support them.

When a child/young person decides not to or cannot attend the Core Group meeting the Case Co-ordinator must ascertain the child/young person's views on how the Child Protection Plan is working for them, (this can be done using a variety of methods, dependent on the child/young person's age) and these should be included in the Core Group recording document. The child/young person's views should always be represented and recorded at the Core Group meeting.

31. The Child Protection Plan

All children/young people whose names are on the Child Protection Register must have an inter-agency Child Protection Plan and must be seen by the Case Co-ordinator within, at least, 4 weekly intervals and more regularly as determined by the Child Protection Plan.

The multi-disciplinary assessment will lead to a written plan of intervention agreed between participating agencies and shared with parents and, if appropriate, the child/young person. The plan should include: areas of need; planned action for period under review; desired outcomes; persons responsible; and timescales for completion. The aim of the plan is to:

  • Protect and safeguard the child/young person from further harm;
  • Promote the child's/young person's health and development;
  • Help the parents achieve these objectives.

The Child Protection Plan should:

  • Describe the needs of the child/young person, giving particular attention to his/her safety and well-being;
  • Identify the intended outcome for the child/young person;
  • Identify the contribution to be made by parents and the help they need in order to safeguard the child/young person;
  • Identify the means by which this help will be provided;
  • Identify the part to be played by each professional and agency in providing this help and in monitoring the child/young person's safety;
  • Identify possible risks associated with the planned action and how these will be managed;
  • Establish the pattern of contact with the family and visits to the child/young person. The child/young person should be spoken to by themselves (alone) where they are of sufficient age and understanding;
  • Set dates on which progress will be reviewed.

Other areas that should be identified in the plan are dependent upon the individual needs of the child/young person. These may include:

  • Where the child/young person should live if not at home;
  • Recommendations with regard to contact between the child and parents if not living at home;
  • The child/young person's contact with the alleged abusers and other persons of concern, where these are family members;
  • What needs to change in order for the child/young person to be considered safe within the family and how these changes will be facilitated.

If the abuser is a family member who is in prison or living away from home the plan should state what will happen if he/she wishes to return home.

Once the plan has been drawn up it will be the responsibility of individual agencies to implement the parts of the Plan relating to them and to communicate with the Case Co-ordinator and others as necessary. The Case Co-ordinator is responsible for co-ordinating the contributions of different agencies. The plan should not be changed without prior consultation with the Core Group members. Any changes should be confirmed in writing.

The parents and child/young person (dependent on age and understanding) should be invited to comment on the Child Protection Plan, and be afforded the opportunity to sign the plan and be given a copy of the document. The Case Co-ordinator should ensure that the family understand the Plan and are prepared to work within it.

All professionals working with children/young people and/or families in accordance with a Child Protection Plan must be alert to indications that the Plan may be failing to protect and safeguard the child/young person. These include:

  • Parents denying, or otherwise preventing, access to the child/young person;
  • Parents not co-operating in carrying out the Child Protection Plan;
  • Any agency failing to deliver its contribution to implementing the Plan;
  • Medical monitoring being frustrated and its purposes not being achieved;
  • Medical monitoring raising a concern that the child/young person may be neglected or ill-treated;
  • Any other information, professional observation or reported incident, which indicates that the level of risk of significant harm has become or remains unacceptable.

In any of the above situations the professional concerned should promptly inform the Case Co-ordinator who should then give careful consideration to requesting an urgent Child Protection Case Conference for the purposes of sharing new information and ensuring the continued protection of the child/young person. If professionals dispute the decision of the Case Co-ordinator their agency's Escalation Policy should be applied and implemented.

Where there is concern about imminent harm, immediate steps should be taken to remove the child/young person from harm; this may require the child to be placed with other family or friends capable of keeping the child/young person safe, or if this is not deemed suitable at the time, to accommodate the child/young person in the care of the HSC Trust. Every effort should be made to do this with the informed consent and written agreement of the child/young person's parents; otherwise consideration must be given to the necessity of securing a legal order, such as an Emergency Protection Order or an Interim Care Order.

32. Concerns about the Effectiveness of the Child Protection Plan

If the Core Group is concerned about the effectiveness of the Child Protection Plan a number of options are available to them depending on the circumstances of the case. They can:

  • Request an urgent Review Child Protection Case Conference;
  • Request the Senior Manager(band 8a or above) responsible for the case to consider how to ensure the immediate protection of the child/young person;
Where necessary, all Core Group members should seek appropriate line management guidance.

33. UNOCINI Child Protection Pathway Assessment

A multi-disciplinary Pathway Assessment must be undertaken whenever a child/young person's name is placed on the Child Protection Register. The Pathway Assessment should be completed before the first review Child Protection Case Conference to enable the inter-agency Child Protection Plan to be agreed.

The Pathway Assessment fulfils the following functions:

  • Provides an understanding of the child/young person's needs and family's situation;
  • Establishes what has happened and the reason for the concerns;
  • Assesses the risk of the child/young person suffering significant harm;
  • Identifies what needs to change in order for the risk to the child/young person to be reduced.

The Pathway Assessment will provide information for the Child Protection Plan. It should include contributions from all relevant agencies to cover social, environmental, health, developmental and educational needs. It must be remembered that assessment is a continuing activity throughout the child protection process and adjusted according to the timescale for Child Protection Case Conference Reviews and/or of appearances at court.

As with all aspects of the child protection process, involvement of parents and the child/young person is an essential element of an effective Pathway Assessment. The process of engaging them may take time and may delay the timetable for undertaking the assessment but their co-operation is essential.

34. Review Child Protection Case Conference

The first Review Child Protection Case Conference should be convened within three months of the initial Child Protection Case Conference and thereafter at a minimum of six monthly intervals to ensure that the Child Protection Plan continues to be effective and provide protection for the child/young person.

The interagency Child Protection Plan requires regular review to ensure that it continues to provide protection for the child/young person, that his/her needs are being met and continuing protection and safety can be achieved.

Any professional may request an early Review Child Protection Case Conference where they have cause for concern about a registered child/young person.

The Review Child Protection Case Conferences will be conducted in the same way as at the Initial Child Protection Case Conference:

35. Purpose of Review Child Protection Case Conference

The purpose of the Review Child Protection Case Conference is to:

  • Ensure that the child/young person continues to be adequately safeguarded and protected;
  • Identify any significant or relevant changes in the child/young person's family since the previous Child Protection Case Conference;
  • Review the safety, health and development of the child/young person against the outcomes of the Child Protection Plan;
  • Examine the current level of risk to the child/young person with reference to any assessments undertaken by agencies individually or collectively;
  • Decide whether continued registration is necessary; and
  • Consider whether a Child Protection Plan is still required, or should be changed.

36. Timing of the Review Child Protection Case Conference

The Chairperson of the Child Protection Case Conference has discretion to delay a Review Child Protection Case Conference in cases where the decision about the need for a Child Protection Plan and further risk to the child/young person may be affected by the outcome of imminent court proceedings.

Child Protection Review Case Conferences should not be cancelled except in exceptional circumstances. The Case Co-ordinator must inform the Chair of the Review Child Protection Case Conference if exceptional circumstances arise and cancellation needs to be considered. It is the Chairperson's decision whether the Review Child Protection Case Conference is cancelled or delayed and the reasons must be recorded in the child/young person's case file and the minutes of any reconvened Child Protection Case Conference.

All agencies have a responsibility to ensure that representatives attend Review Child Protection Case Conferences in order to avoid the need for postponement because a quorum is not available.

37. Criteria for Convening an Unscheduled Review Child Protection Case Conference

Consideration should be given to convening an unscheduled Review Child Protection Case Conference in the following circumstances if:

  • There is a significant deterioration in a child/young person's or family's circumstances;
  • There is a departure from the Child Protection Plan by any agency;
  • It is not possible to provide the level of support and/or monitoring required by the Child Protection Plan;
  • A child/young person has been reported missing to a statutory agency;
  • There is a breakdown in partnership and co-operation by parents;
  • A Person of Concern joins, or is known to have contact with the child/young person or family;
  • The child/young person's and family's circumstances have improved significantly and de-registration should be considered.

38. Reports for a Review Child Protection Case Conference

Members of the Core Group must provide written reports for the Review Child Protection Case Conference. These should address the progress made in the implementation of the Child Protection Plan, on-going concern for the child/young person, the degree of continuing risk to the child/young person and recommendations for future work.

39. Children Looked After by the Trust

Separate "Looked After Child" Reviews and Review Child Protection Case Conferences must be held for children/young people Looked After whose names are also on the Child Protection Register. This is required in order to meet the statutory requirements under the Review of Children's Case Regulations (NI) 1996, and also to ensure that the different issues relevant to each process are fully considered.

40. Change in Registration Category

A Review Child Protection Case Conference may consider that a change or addition, to the registration category is necessary to reflect changing assessment and concerns.

41. De-Registration

At every Review Child Protection Case Conference the criteria for de-registration should be considered which include the:

  • Pathway Assessment has shown that a Child Protection Plan is not necessary;
  • Child/young person remains at home but the risk of significant harm has been reduced significantly;
  • Child/young person has been placed away from home and is no longer considered to be at risk;
  • Child/young person no longer has contact with the abusing person or any other person who may pose a risk to him/her;
  • Child/young person has reached 18 years of age;
  • Child/young person over 16 has married;
  • Child/young person has moved to another area and that HSC Trust, or local authority, has accepted responsibility for the child/young person;
  • Child/young person has moved permanently from the UK.

A child/young person's name should not be removed from the Child Protection Register by a Review Child Protection Case Conference unless a quorum is present and a majority of members of the Child Protection Case Conference agree with this decision. This quorum may be breached if, under exceptional circumstances, an agency representative is unable to attend but has submitted a written report with a recommendation on deregistration.

The child/young person and parents should be notified in writing of the decision and provided with a copy of the minutes, as appropriate.

All those informed of the decision to place the child/young person's name on the Child Protection Register should be notified of the removal of the child/young person's name from the Register and their records should be amended accordingly.

De-registration should not lead to the automatic withdrawal of support services. The child/young person may still be assessed as a 'Child in Need' and provided services under Article 18 of the Children (NI) Order 1995. Any future support required by the child/young person and family should be discussed at the Review Child Protection Case Conference and recorded in the minutes. Any Child in Need /Family Support Plan agreed should be reviewed within 3 months. All agencies and professionals should accept their continuing responsibility for supporting a child/young person and the family once the child's/young person's name has been removed from the Child Protection Register. The continuing provision of services may still require inter-agency collaboration.

Where a child/young person has died, their name should be removed immediately from the Child Protection Register.

42. Case Closure

Moving out of the child protection process should not result in case closure. A case must not be closed at point of de-registration without discussion with the parents/carers, child/young person (where appropriate), referrer (where appropriate) and any other agency that is offering support to a child/young person.

The decision to close the case must be made by the appropriate Social Work Manager (band 8a or above).

tri.x procedures

Only valid for 48hrs