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Restorative Approach to Child Protection Conferences

In May 2017 Portsmouth moved to a Restorative Approach to Children Protection Conferences. A restorative child protection conference aims to bring together the people in the family affected by the harm that has been identified, together with the professionals who might assist them in making things better. It is important that the family are at the centre of the meeting, taking a leading role in the discussion and the planning.

Initial Child Protection Conferences

A restorative approach means avoiding blame and judgements whilst having high expectations of what can be achieved and people’s contributions to making things better. This will mean understanding and appreciating the strengths in the system (in and around the family) whilst honestly and openly exploring the challenges – so as to support each other to deliver change.

The Chair of the conference will need to facilitate the meeting carefully so as to manage the confrontation of harm, the emotional impact of this and the potential healing as a result of addressing it.

The chair will aim to consider:

  • What are the issues/ harm that the conference needs to address?
  • How the family feel about what people are saying?
  • What has been the impact on the children?
  • How they feel about this
  • What would better look like? What can they do about this?
  • What support the family need from the people round the table

Here is the new agenda and a copy of the revised CP plan template.

One of the practice changes is that there will be no reading time at the conference; you will be expected to have read the reports before attending. So it is really important that you submit your report for Initial Child Protection Conferences to SQT Business Team two working days before the Initial Child Protection Conference so that it can be circulated to all attendees at least one day beforehand.

The template for your report to Initial Child Protection Conferences will remain as is for the time being but there is a revised Social Worker’s report.

The Role of the Core Group

The professionals identified by the family to support them making things better and make the child/ren safe will, together with the family, form the core group of people working on the child protection plan.

This core group will meet every 6 weeks to talk about the plan – how it is working for the family and how well they are progressing with it and whether the child/ren is/are safer or safe. If you are not able to attend the core group meeting or child protection conference, you must ensure another member of your agency attends to represent you. This is particularly important at child protection conferences, as without a representative from your agency, the meeting may not be able to go ahead.

The progress made by the family will be reported back to the review child protection conference, making attendance and contribution to core group meetings even more important.

Review Child Protection Conference

The progress made by the family will be reported back to the review child protection conference. The professional in the core group will be expected to work to the principle of restorative practice in providing high support and high challenge to each other for the benefit of the child/ren and family. The core group meeting will produce a report to update the child protection conference.

Any agency that has not been part of a core group meeting will need to update the Social Worker, preferably prior to the core group meeting to ensure any update to the plan is known so that this is incorporated into the conference report.

The only reports required for Review Child Protection Conferences are the Core Group report and the police will provide a report for the Chair.

Other information

There is also a one minute guide explaining the principles of a Restorative Approach to a CP Conference and the presentation Denise Lingham, the Service Lead for Child Protection, gave at the briefing sessions on this topic. We highly recommend that you share these with colleagues who may be asked to contribute to a Child Protection Conference so they are aware of these changes.

If you are attending a child protection conference and have any queries please email the administration team at dsssqt@portsmouthcc.gov.uk

When working with a family and/or child you should make them aware of how to make a comment, compliment or complaint to Children’s Social Care. Follow the link here for more information.