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Child protection referral and assessment

Child protection conferences

A child protection conference is a meeting. It is held when workers think a child is suffering harm because of abuse or neglect. At the meeting all the workers who know the child and their family share information, hear from the parents or carers and recommend whether the child needs a child protection plan.

Who can attend?

People at the meeting can include your health visitor, a member of staff from your child's school, a school nurse, a police officer and your child if they are old enough. The 'chair' runs the meeting, they are independent. A child protection conference is a confidential meeting and information shared at a conference can only be shared outside to protect any child, or with your permission.

Recording the conference

An audio recording of the conference will be made with your consent. You will be sent a written summary of the meeting including any plans agreed. A child protection conference has no legal powers and cannot 'take children into care'. If workers think a child is not safe at home they can recommend that the council apply to the court which can order that a child lives elsewhere but only after hearing evidence and considering everyone's views.

Parent's rights

You should:

  • Be invited to the conference or be told why you have been excluded and invited to give your views in some other way
  • Be given a service you need to join in the conference, including interpretation and translation if English is not your first language, signing if needed or a room that you can access
  • Be given copies of reports before the conference
  • Be able to bring a friend or supporter, including a solicitor
  • Be able to send a suitable representative, such as a solicitor if you are unable to attend, for example because you are in hospital or custody
  • Be able to ask questions and give your views

Significant harm

The law defines 'harm' as ill treatment or the impairment of health and development. Harm becomes significant when it starts to affect how a child or young person is growing up.

Child protection plan

A tool to help family and professionals know what they must do to keep the child safe. The plan should name what is causing harm to the child, set out short and long term goals and what everyone needs to do to reach them.

Core group

The workers and family members who will be responsible for putting the plan into action. This group is agreed at the conference and needs to meet soon after the conference and then every six weeks to review how the plan is working.

What you need to do

Before the meeting

  • Arrange for your young children to be looked after during the conference, your social worker may be able to help with this
  • Plan how you will get to the conference
  • Think what you are going to say to your child about the conference

At the meeting

  • Arrive 30 minutes early so you can meet with the chair of the conference and raise any questions you have about the conference
  • Listen to what others say, you will have a chance to ask questions and give your views

After the meeting

If the meeting makes any plan for work with your family:

  • Work with your child's social worker and others to reduce the risk to your child
  • Attend all core groups if the conference makes a child protection plan for your child

Top tips for parents

  • Lots of parents do not like the conference hearing details of problems in their past, remind yourself how you overcame these difficulties and point that out
  • Think of the strengths of your family and point these out if no one else does
  • Be honest if there are things you think you need to change to make things better for your family
  • Taking notes might help you remember what you want to say


For more information, download one of the following leaflets

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Southwark safeguarding children board

Tel: 020 7525 3306



Contact us

Southwark Council
PO BOX 64529
London SE1P 5LX

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