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Child Protection Conferences and Core Groups

This page should be read in conjunction with Warrington Safeguarding Partnerships policies and procedures Child Protection Conferences (proceduresonline.com)

An Initial Child Protection Conference must be convened following completion of an Assessment by Children's Social Care as part of a Section 47 Enquiry when a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm.

Child Protection Conferences


An Initial Child Protection Conference should be held within a maximum of 15 days of the Strategy Discussion or where more than one has taken place, of the Strategy Discussion at which the Section 47 Enquiry was initiated.


A Child Protection Conference brings together family members (and the child/ren where appropriate), supporters / advocates and those professionals most involved with the child and family to make decisions about the child's future safety, health and development. If concerns relate to an unborn child, consideration should be given as to whether to hold a Child Protection Conference prior to the child's birth.

Attendance at conference+

If you are invited to attend a conference it is because you are believed to know the family and be able to contribute.

This is likely to include:

  • The child or their representative
  • Parents and those with parental responsibility
  • Family members (including the wider family)
  • Foster carers (current or former)
  • Residential care staff
  • Suitably qualified children's social work professionals who have led and been involved in an assessment of the child and family (and their first line manager)
  • Professionals involved with the child (e.g. Health visitor, school nurse, paediatrician, GP, school staff, CAMHS, early years staff, education welfare officers)
  • Professionals with expertise in the particular type of harm suffered by the child or in the child's particular condition (e.g. A disability or long-term illness)
  • Those involved in investigations (e.g. the Police)
  • Involved third sector organisations
  • A professional who is independent of operational or line management responsibilities for the case as Chair.

Conference quoram+

As a minimum quorum, at every conference there should be attendance by local authority Children's Social Care and at least 2 other professional groups or agencies, which have had direct contact with each child who is the subject of the conference.

In exceptional circumstances, the Chair may decide to proceed with the conference despite lack of agency representation. This would be relevant where:

  • A child has not had relevant contact with 2 agencies (e.g. Pre-birth Conferences);
  • Sufficient information is available from the relevant agencies; and
  • A delay will be detrimental to the child.

Where an inquorate conference is held, an early Review Conference should be arranged. The Chair must ensure that the reasons for proceeding with the conference and any arrangements to safeguard the child in the meantime are noted in the conference records.

Preparation for conference+

All involved practitioners should:

  • Contribute to the information their agency provides ahead of the conference by providing a written report to parents and safeguarding unit in the template provided 2 working days prior to conference, setting out the nature of the agency's involvement with the child and family – this must be shared with family prior to the conference

The template is available here. A copy of your report should be e-mailed 24 hours before the conference to safeguarding&qaservice@warrington.gov.uk (this is a secure email address)

  • Arrange for the translation of their reports into the families chosen language where needed
  • Attend the conference and take part in decision making when invited
  • If parents have an advocate and they are not able to share their report with their advocate you can seek their permission to share your report on their behalf.

At the conference+

The tasks for all conferences are to:

  • Bring together 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 and taking into account the child's present situation and information about their family history and present and past family functioning, to decide whether the child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm;
  • Recommend what future action is required in order to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child, including the child becoming the subject of a Child Protection Plan, what the planned developmental outcomes are for the child and how best to intervene to achieve these;
  • Appoint a lead social worker from Children's Social Care for each child who requires a Child Protection Plan. The social worker is responsible for ensuring that the Child Protection Plan is developed, co-ordinated and fully implemented to timescale;
  • Identify a Core Group of professionals and family members to develop, implement and review the progress of the Child Protection Plan;
  • Put in place a contingency plan if the agreed actions are not completed and/or circumstances change impacting on the child's safety and welfare.

Possible outcomes of the conference+

The plan will be developed prior to the decision about whether this should be child protection or child in need.

Conference members will be asked to contribute to the decision making and must consider the following when making their contribution to the decision:

  • Is the child likely to suffer continuing significant harm?
  • Does the child require a child protection plan to safeguard their well-being?

The Child Protection Plan+

If a decision is taken that the child has suffered or is likely to suffer 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 likely to suffer. 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.

Warrington has developed a new way of managing child protection conferences and child protection planning that reduces the possibility of conflict, focusses attention on the needs of the child and how they can be met, encourages open discussion and enables the genuine co-production of child protection and child in need plans between parents and professionals.

The Circle of Change+

The Circle of Change is based within the Systemic Model of Social Work practice and provides a philosophy and framework for planning for our children, families and carers.

The underlying philosophy is simple:

“Planning works when the children and parents are fully involved in it.”

The Circle is a tool for collaborative planning which encourages both self-expression and co-production. It can be used in any setting where a group of people want to devise a plan, for any purpose. The open, questioning format of the planning document is designed to allow everyone in a planning meeting to contribute.

The format is particularly useful as a range of people – children, families, carers and agency representatives alike – can be brought together to put their various abilities and responsibilities to work in addressing a commonly agreed issues for the purpose of jointly achieving specific goals.

For further guidance on the circle of change model in practice please read the guidance here Circle of Change Handbook All Planning Circle of Change Handbook for Child Protection Conferences

You can access a blank copy of the circle of change here Circle of Change for Printing A3 and a Microsoft Word version here with text boxes to type one after the meeting.

Core Groups


The Core group should take place 10 working days from the Initial Child Protection Conference. Thereafter Core Groups should meet regularly to ensure that the child Protection plan is being progressed, reviewed and that parents are engaging in the process. Core groups are usually not less than monthly.

The core group is responsible for developing the child protection plan as a detailed working tool and implementing it. Although the key worker has lead role, all members of the core group are jointly responsible for the formulation and implementation of the CP plan refining the plan as needed and monitoring progress against the planned outcomes.

Core Group responsibilities+

  • Explain to the child and family the roles and functions of the core group
  • Compile / maintain/ review a detailed CP/ Safety plan
  • Determine who will see each family member and when
  • Undertake individually agreed tasks
  • Maintain a record
  • Initiate a contingency plan if needed

For further information on Core Groups, you can access the policies and procedures here

Review Conferences


A Review Conference is intended:

  • To review whether the child is continuing to suffer, or is likely to suffer, significant harm, and review developmental progress against the Child Protection Plan outcomes
  • To consider whether the Child Protection Plan should continue or should be changed.

If the child is considered to be suffering significant harm, the local authority should consider whether to initiate family court proceedings. If not, then the child should no longer be the subject of a Child Protection Plan and the conference should consider what continuing support services (step down support) may benefit the child and family and make recommendations accordingly.


The first child Review Child Protection Conference should be held within 3 months of the date of the Initial Child Protection Conference. Further reviews should be held at intervals of not more than 6 months for as long as the child remains the subject of a Child Protection Plan.

If the Initial Conference was a Pre-birth Conference, the Review Conference should take place within 1 month of the child's birth or within 3 months of the date of the Pre-birth Conference, whichever is sooner. Subsequent Review Conferences should take place within 6 months thereafter.

Review conferences should be brought forward where / when:

  • Child Protection concerns relating to a new incident or allegation of abuse have been sustained;
  • There are significant difficulties in carrying out the Child Protection Plan;
  • A child is to be born into the household of a child or children already subject of Child Protection Plans;
  • An adult or child who poses a risk to children is to join, or commences regular contact with, the household;
  • There is a significant change in the circumstances of the child or family not anticipated at the previous conference and with implications for the safety of the child;
  • A child subject of a Child Protection Plan is also Looked After by the local authority and consideration is being given to returning them to the circumstances where care of the child previously aroused concerns (unless this step is anticipated in the existing Child Protection Plan);
  • The Core Group believe that an early cancellation of the need for a Child Protection Plan should be considered