Involvement of children and family

Being involved in child protection processes can be a stressful and difficult time for children and their families. It is important that children and families remain engaged in the process as partnership working is the key to reducing the risks and keeping the child safe from harm.

The aim of the conference should be that children (where attending) and family members feel able to talk freely about the issues that they see as being present and where necessary constructively challenge information that is given to the conference by the agencies present.  In order to do this staff should ensure that information is given to the family in a format which they can understand and that strengths as well as difficulties are considered.

Parents / carers

All parents and carers must be invited to conferences (unless exclusion is justified - see exclusion of family members) and the social worker must ensure that they are aware of the purpose and function of the conference prior to attending.  The family should also be made aware of the process if they wish to complain about the conference (see complaints about conferences), and their right to have someone to support them.

Should the family feel unable to attend then they should be offered the chance to speak with the chair of the conference beforehand.


Subject to their level of understanding and the assessed potential impact on them, children should be given the chance to contribute to all or part of the conference. The National Children's Bureau highlights research findings which demonstrate that in a significant number of cases involving death or serious abuse, the child's views had not been properly considered (see below).

If it is assessed that it is not appropriate for a child to attend then alternative arrangements should be made to ensure that their wishes and feelings are made clear to the conference (e.g. use of an advocate).

If children are not attending the conference then the social worker should ensure that there are adequate child care arrangements in place.

Use of interpreters

Where English is not the family's first language, consideration should be given to the use of an interpreter. The social worker should contact the Internal Interpreter service with details of the language dialect and country of origin.

Please see HSSD, Corporate Procedure, Requesting Interpreters and Translators COR010 which is available on Poliplus






Person responsible



Assessment of whether child should attend the conference to take place

Social worker and Unit manager (first line manager)

When decision made to take to conference if initial and at least 15 working days before a review


Parents / carers to be invited to the conference

Social worker

When invite list for conference completed


Explanation to be provided to parents / carers / child (if attending) about the process and function of the conference

Social worker

At least five working days before the conference


Information to be provided to the parents / carers / child (if attending) about their right to have a supporter present or an advocate

Social worker

At least five working days before the conference


Information to be provided to the parents / carers / child (if attending) about the complaints process

Social worker

At least five working days before the conference


Interpreter to be arranged for the conference if necessary

Social worker

***Timescale required***


Should child not attending the conference then child care arrangements to be discussed with parents / carers

Social worker

***Timescale required***


If an advocate for child or parent / carer is required then request to be made

Social worker

***Timescale required***


Discussion with conference chair to take place if there is a need to have attendance at the meeting split due to animosity between parents / carers / children and how this should be managed

Social worker and conference chair

At least two working days before the conference (unless information not known at this time)


If attendance at the conference is to be split then parents / carers to be informed of the process and reasons for this

Social worker

At least one working day before the conference


Conference chair to meet with parents / carers prior to conference to ensure they understand the process

Conference chair

Immediately prior to the conference