PA8. Complaints in Relation to Child Protection Conference
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This procedure relates to the rights of parents/carers and children (if of sufficient age and understanding) to complain about the process or outcome of a Child Protection Conference, or appeal against a Conference decision.
Complaints relating to "child protection matters" (S47 enquiries, conferences etc) are excluded from the local authority Children Act complaints procedures - see Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman - The Children Act Complaints Procedures.
For a record of all amendments and updates, see the Amendments & Archives.
Specific definitions of key concepts used by safeguarding practitioners are available through the Glossary.
AMENDMENTThis chapter was updated in March 2023.
1. Eligibility to Use This Procedure
Parents/Carers and children (with sufficient understanding) may have concerns about which they wish to complain or appeal, in respect of one or more of the following aspects of the functioning of Child Protection Conferences:
|1.2||All parties must be made aware that this complaints process cannot itself change a Child Protection Conference decision and that during the course of the investigation of a complaint / appeal, the decision made by the Conference stands.|
|1.3||At all stages of this complaint / appeals process, the complainant/appellant may bring an advocate or friend to support them. Particular consideration must be given to children who may not be as articulate or able to fully understand the process, and may need an advocate.|
|N.B. Complaints about individual agencies, their performance and provision (or non-provision) of services will not be dealt with under this procedure and should be responded to in accordance with the relevant agency's complaints handling process.|
2. Grounds for Challenging the Decision of a Child Protection Conference
2.1 A child protection conference will be convened where a child is thought to be suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. The conference will decide whether or not the child should be made the subject of a child protection plan and make recommendations on how best to safeguard the child in the future. The decision to make the child the subject of a child protection plan may be challenged if:
3. Stage One - Informal Stage
|Who will be involved? The manager responsible for Child Protection Conference Service and Child Protection Conference Chair.|
|3.2||The complaint should be sent in writing to the conference chair within 10 working days of the child protection conference. If required assistance will be given to service users to enable them to do this.|
|3.3||The Local Authority Complaints Officer should be informed of the complaint and where there are issues which fall outside of this procedure these should be discussed and directed through the appropriate channel (e.g. Children Act Complaint Service, NHS Complaints).|
|3.4||The complaint should be acknowledged in writing within 3 working days and a written response provided within 10 working days. Alternatively, a meeting may be offered to attempt resolution within 10 working days.|
|3.5||This is a problem-solving stage in which the manager and chair will aim to seek an early resolution with the complainant.|
|3.6||If a meeting is held, the manager will confirm in writing the points of complaint and any actions agreed to resolve. The letter should also advise the complainant of their right to move to Stage 2 of process within 28 days, if they are still dissatisfied.|
|3.7||The Local Authority Complaints Officer and the Senior Manager responsible for Children's Safeguarding should be informed of the outcome of Stage 1 and also receive a copy of this letter.|
4. Stage Two - Formal Stage - Complaint Meeting
|Personnel involved in this meeting will be the manager responsible for the child protection conference services and /or Senior Manager for Children's Safeguarding.|
|4.2||The Local Authority Complaints Officer should be kept informed of the progress of this complaint.|
|4.3||A Complaint Meeting at Stage 2 should be arranged and held within 28 days to attempt to resolve the areas of concern.|
The Complaint Meeting should have access to and will consider:
|4.5||The meeting should still aim to address areas of dissatisfaction and to resolve matters. Following the meeting the complainant should receive a letter to confirm what was agreed and to advise the complainant of their right to move to Stage 3 within 28 days, if they are still dissatisfied.|
|4.6||The Local Authority Complaints Officer should be informed of the outcome of Stage 2 and receive a copy of this letter where there are complaints which relate to issues outside the procedure or, the complainant has separate complaints which are being addressed through the Children Act Complaint Service or NHS Complaints. The Local Safeguarding Children Partnership Business Manager should also be informed if the complainant wishes to progress to an Appeal Panel|
5. Stage Three - The Appeal Panel
|An Appeal Panel will be convened within 15 working days of receipt of written notification from Stage 2.|
|5.2||The Chair of the Panel will be a senior manager from the Safeguarding Children Partner agencies.|
|5.3||The Panel will be an interagency panel made up of at least two senior representatives from Safeguarding Children Partnership agencies, none of whom have previous or present direct line management responsibility for the case in question.|
|5.4||The Safeguarding Children Partnership will provide a minute-taker.|
|5.5||The panel chair has the authority to co-opt other professionals where specialist advice is needed.|
|5.6||The panel will consist of the Panel Chair and at least two members of Safeguarding Children Partnership agencies. To communicate any specific concerns and recommendations relating to practice or procedure on the part of any agency or organisation to the relevant senior manager.|
The Panel may make one or more of the following decisions based on a majority view:
N.B. The Panel does not have the authority to reverse a Conference decision.
|5.8||Within 5 working days of the Panel, the Panel Chair will ensure that the written decision / finding and/or minutes of the Panel meeting are sent to the complainant/appellant, to all who were sent minutes of the Child Protection Conference and a copy of the minutes will be given to the chair for any reconvened conference.|
6. Reconvened Conference
|The chair of a reconvened Child Protection Conference must ensure that all those present have seen or are briefed at the start of the Conference about the decision and any recommendation(s) made by the Panel. Minutes of the Panel meeting will also be circulated.|
7. Conference Records
|7.1||All reports presented to the conference that led to the submission of the complaint will be retained by children’s services together with the decision sheet(s) and minutes of the conference. Partner agencies will retain copies of their own reports together with the decision sheet9s) and minutes of the conference.|
|7.2||The minutes of any reconvened or subsequent conference will include reference to the decision and recommendations of the Review Panel.|
|7.3||If, as a consequence of the complaint, a subsequent child protection conference reaches a different conclusion to that of the original conference, then all agencies should ensure that their records of the conference leading to the submission of the complaint are endorsed to record that the original decision was amended or updated.|
8. Further Challenge
|A complainant / appellant who continues to be dissatisfied with the outcome of the above process could pursue their grievance via the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman or choose to seek legal advice about remedies such as judicial review.|