Social Services Department. Children and Families Services. Child Protection. a guide for adults. A Conwy Publication

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1 Social Services Department Children and Families Services Child Protection a guide for adults A Conwy Publication

2 Child Protection This leaflet is about protecting children and keeping them safe from harm and neglect. It explains how social services works with parents and families and what is meant by abuse. Conwy County Borough Council s Social Services Department has a legal duty under the Children Act 1989 & 2004 to make sure that children are safe and protected. What is child abuse? We have a duty to protect children and have to make enquiries when any kind of abuse is alleged. Abuse can take many forms, including neglect, causing physical, sexual or emotional harm and failure to act to prevent harm. A child may be abused by a person they know, or more rarely by a stranger. Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, burning or scalding, or physically harming a child in any other way. Emotional abuse may involve telling a child that they are worthless and unloved, humiliating them, causing them to feel frightened or asking them to do something that is not reasonable for their age. Sexual abuse may involve encouraging or even forcing a child to take part in inappropriate sexual acts. This can involve physical contact or showing pornographic material to a child. Neglect may involve failure to provide enough food, warmth, safety, medical attention, education or mental stimulation. What is child protection? If social services and/or other agencies working with children are worried enough about a child, the child may become the subject of a child protection enquiry. If the enquiry confirms our concerns, an investigation will begin to find out whether the child needs protection. A child protection referral means that when someone tells us that they are worried about a young person, we have a duty to make enquiries and, when needed, to investigate. We sometimes carry out a joint investigation with the Police. During these enquiries we ask people known to the family (such as their health visitor, teachers or doctor) about the child or their family.

3 A social worker or child protection police officer may need to visit the parents or carers at home. Social Workers can visit without an appointment, and if they do, they must: Provide identification; Explain why they are visiting; Discuss concerns with the parents or carers and ask for their views; Arrange to see the child; Assess any immediate risk to the child. After the enquiry, it may be that there is no reason for any further concern. If this is the case, the family will need to be told as soon as possible. What is a child protection investigation? A child protection investigation is a more formal investigation, which takes place if it is confirmed that the child is at risk. This could include the following: Gathering of information A social worker will talk to professionals and people already working with the family, such as their health visitor, teacher or doctor. Parental consent We will ask for consent from the parents or carers (and, where appropriate, from the child) for any examination or interview to take place. In most cases, we invite the parents or carers to come to the examination with the child. If the parents or carers do not give permission, we may obtain a legal order, which allows us to interview or medically examine the child without the parents permission, as we have a duty to think about the immediate safety of the child. Interviewing a child We can interview a child at school, home, or at one of our offices. The social workers and police officers that talk to children are skilled in both listening to children and helping them to cope with their interview. If we suspect a criminal offence has taken place, we may record the interview on videotape so that the child does not have to repeat their experience if the case has to go to court. If other children in the family are thought to be at risk, we may also interview them. Medical examination During some investigations, the child needs to be examined to look for health and medical needs that may have been overlooked, and for possible evidence of harm. This will only be done if it is thought to be in the child s best interest, by a doctor trained in child protection.

4 Criminal offences If we identify a criminal offence the police may arrest and interview people suspected of causing harm to a child. At the end of an investigation We will, with the help of the parents or carers, try to decide whether the child is at risk and needs protection. If this is so, they will consider what support might be needed to keep the child safe from harm. If it is felt that we need a clear plan to protect the child, we will arrange a child protection conference. What is a child protection conference? A child protection conference is a meeting held to discuss and record all concerns about a child or children. The aims of this meeting are to : Consider whether a child is at risk of harm and the nature of the concern about the child; Assess the degree of risk to the child s health and well-being and whether the child needs protection; Decide whether the child s name should be included on Conwy s child protection register; and Make recommendations for any further action needed to help protect the child. Who is at the conference? Parents and people from agencies who know the family are always invited to the conference, for example, their health visitor, school teacher, doctor or social worker. Someone who has not been involved in the enquiries or the case so far leads this meeting and they will make sure that everyone has a chance to give their view. If the child is of an age to take part in the conference they will be invited to attend. They may be able to bring someone else along to support them in the meeting if it would help them. It is very important that parents are able to attend conferences about their children and take part in the discussion. If you have any practical problems about attending please raise this with your social worker to see what help may be available. Parents and carers do not have to come to the conference, however, their views are very important in putting together a plan to protect your child and to help you, so we want you to be as comfortable as possible at the conference. You may ask one adult to come with you and support you. This could be your solicitor, advocate or friend. The person who comes with you may listen and observe, but not speak for you although they may ask for a short break in the conference if this would help you.

5 Confidentiality Everyone at the meeting is bound by strict rules of confidentiality. Your family will not be talked about by anyone except those who need to know to help with the child protection plan for your child. Notes of the meeting are sent to parents and carers and everyone who is invited to attend. These notes are kept confidential. What happens at the Child Protection conference? Parents and carers meet with the chairperson before the meeting and read any reports that have been prepared. The conference will: Clarify why the meeting has been called and share information; Identify what needs to happen in order for the risks to the child be reduced; Assess the risks and decide if the child is at risk of significant harm; Decide if the child s name should be put on Conwy s Child Protection register and, if so Agree a plan of action. The decision to put a child s name on Conwy s Child Protection register will be taken jointly by the conference members, after hearing recommendations from the agencies represented at the meeting and a copy of the minutes will be sent to you within 10 working days. What is the child protection register? This is a confidential list of names of children in Conwy who are subject to an inter-agency Child Protection plan. Your child s name will be placed on the register if he/she is at risk of harm AND there are unresolved Child Protection issues AND these require an inter-agency Protection Plan. What happens after a conference? If your child is put on the Child Protection register then a social worker will be appointed as the key worker, and a core group of professionals will work with you to draw up a child protection plan. NB. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO APPEAL AGAINST THE FUNCTIONING OF CONFERENCE IN TERMS OF THE PROCESSES OR OUTCOMES. YOUR CONCERNS SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO THE CHAIRPERSON.

6 The Child Protection Plan The Child Protection plan outlines what action needs to be taken to reduce the risk of harm to the child. This work is done by parents and those directly involved with the family, who meet as a core group to carry out the plan. Review meetings are held regularly to look again at whether the child still needs protection. If it is agreed that the risk has been removed, the child s name will be taken off the child protection register. We always try to keep children with their families in their own homes. Sometimes this is not possible, but we rarely remove a child from their family. If the child is thought not to be at risk, the child and family may still need support. We have a responsibility to provide support to families in need. We can provide information, advice and practical support, or ask other agencies to help the family. Whatever the outcome of the investigation, we will let the parents and carers know immediately. We recognise that the process of child protection enquiries can be difficult and stressful to all concerned. If you do not understand anything, or want more information, please contact the following: Duty and Assessment Team Children and Family Services Civic Centre Annexe Colwyn Bay LL29 8AR Graham Seale Child Protection Co ordinator Civic Centre Annexe Colwyn Bay LL29 8AR Telephone: Fax:

7 Complaints and comments If you are unhappy with any aspect of the service, you should in the first instance discuss the matter with your Social Worker; and hopefully he/she will be able to solve the problem. However, if you are still dissatisfied and wish to take the matter further, you may submit the complaint to the attention of: The Complaints Officer Social Services Department Builder Street Llandudno. LL30 1DA Telephone:

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