Guide to child protection work in Kirklees
What is a child protection enquiry?
A child protection enquiry has to be started if someone believes that a child is being harmed or is at risk of significant harm. The local council must by law visit the family and liaise with other professionals who know the family to find out what is happening.
If there are concerns about your child a social worker will talk to all professionals who know your child and the family. This may include teachers, health visitors, doctors or any other professional involved with the family. If the concern is that your child has been abused or a crime has occurred then the police will also be involved.
A social worker will talk to you about what you believe has happened and why there are concerns about your child. You will be asked your views on what has happened.
If your child is believed to have an injury or to have been sexually abused, the social worker and the police may want a medical examination to take place. This will help find out how your child was hurt and make sure they receive medical help.
If your child is old enough the social worker will want to talk to them to hear their views and feelings about what has happened, and if a crime is thought to have been committed the police may want to record the interview using a video.
What happens after a child protection enquiry?
The law says that those working with families must try to help children and their families stay together wherever possible. However, the law also says that children must be kept safe.
In most circumstances parents are helped to look after their child safely and the child remains at home. Occasionally the risk of a child being harmed is too great and it may be necessary to find somewhere else for the child to stay, if possible with another family member. Alternatively, the person who may harm the child could be asked to leave the family home. If a child cannot remain at home then it may be necessary to apply to court for an order to remove the child so that the child can go to a foster carer or a children's residential home. At this point you would be advised to contact a solicitor to advise you.
If a child is thought to be at risk of harm but this can be managed with the child remaining at home a Child Protection Conference may be called.
What is a child protection conference?
A Child Protection Conference is a meeting to talk about a child who may have been harmed or is at risk of being harmed. This meeting could involve teachers, doctors, health visitors, school nurses, police, probation officers and social workers. As parents/carers you would also be invited and supported to attend and if your child is old enough to understand the process they may also attend. If you have any speech or hearing difficulties or if you need an interpreter arrangements will be made to support you so that you can fully participate in the conference.
The chairperson will meet with you before the conference starts. They will talk to you about what will happen and answer any questions you might have. At the meeting reports from professionals involved with your family will be read and discussed, and information will be shared about the concerns for your child. Professionals at the meeting will decide whether they believe your child is at risk of harm. You will be asked for your views and the views of your child, where old enough, will also be heard at the conference.
If it is decided that your child is at risk of harm the meeting will discuss how best your child can be protected and what can be done to support your child and your family. This will then become the Child Protection Plan.
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What is a child protection plan?
The purpose of a Child Protection Plan is to ensure that everyone is clear what help and support will be provided, by whom and when. This will include expectations of you as parent/carers to work with the professionals, participate in the plan, and make any changes and improvements so that your child is safe and well cared for. Your child's health, development and general welfare will be regularly checked. The plan will be reviewed after three months and then at six monthly intervals. The Child Protection Plan will remain in place until it is believed that your child is no longer at risk of harm.
Further advice and information can be obtained from the Child Protection and Review Unit who can be contacted by telephone on 01484 225850 / 225068 , or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you feel the child protection enquiry or the child protection conference was not conducted fairly there is a complaints procedure which you can access. Your social worker will be able to provide you with further information or you may contact:the Complaints Service at Kirklees Council on 01484 225140.