What is an Enquiry?
It's what we do when we need to make sure that children are OK. Sometimes adults or other young people hurt children or make them feel bad or afraid. This shouldn't happen - if it happens to you, we're here to help you and to find out what's going on.
Who are "We"?
We are social workers. Our job is to listen to what you want to tell us. Sometimes a policeman will come with us. Please ask us questions at any time and tell us what you think should happen.
What Happens Next?
We also need to talk to other people, such as your family. We need to find out what happened and why. The most important thing to remember is that you've done nothing wrong. You're not in any kind of trouble. We want to see if you need our help.
When we've spoken to all the people we need to speak to, we will decide what should happen. It may be that nothing needs to happen. Or we may give your family some help and advice. Sometimes we need to call a meeting called a Child Protection Conference. You can read more about Conferences here.
Child Protection Conferences - What are they all about?
What is a Child Protection Conference?
A Case Conference is a meeting between professionals and families to decide whether a child needs to be protected. Where this is considered to be necessary the Conference will advise that the child will need a safeguarding plan. The Conference will agree a Safeguarding Plan that will write down how to support and offer help to you and with you - to protect you. The plan will also include what needs to change in order for your child to be considered safe.
What sort of harm?
Harm can take several forms:
Physical - when an adult deliberately hurts a child, such as hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, drowning or suffocating.
Neglect - Where a child is not being looked after properly, for example, not getting enough to eat or being left alone in dangerous situations.
Emotional - This would happen, for instance, when a child is all the time being unfairly blamed for everything, or told they are stupid and made to feel unhappy.
Sexual - Examples would be where a child has been forced to take part in sexual activities or in the taking of rude photos.
Who will be at the Conference?
Most importantly, you will be there. Conferences are held across England and Wales using clear and fair rules to help professionals and familities protect children. Everybody at the Conference is there because they have important information to share about you, or they might be there because we think they have special skills or knowledge that could help you. Your parent(s) will usually be there as well as your social worker, your teacher, your doctor, and maybe someone from the Police Child Protection Unit. Other people who have been involved in your life may also be there. There will be someone in charge called a Chairperson and someone taking notes of what is said.
What happens at the Conference?
The people present will say what they know and think about you and your family. This will mean talking about anything that worries them but also the good things. After this they have to decide whether your name should be put on the Child Protection Register (or, if it's already on, whether it should stay on).
Click on the Case Conference link for more information
What is the child protection plan?
This is a list of things that need to happen to make sure you will be safe and well, for example:
- seeing your doctor regularly;
- getting to school ok;
- someone seeing you and talking to you regularly about how things are going for you;
- how to stop the abuse/harm.
Can a Conference take me away from my parents?
No, only a Court can decide that you must live away from home. A Conference is not a Court.
Can I go to a Conference?
Sometimes, yes, but it will depend on a number of things. Your Social Worker will talk to you about this to explain more fully what the conference is about and to answer your questions. If, after that talk, we all agree that you should be there then we'll try to help you as much as we can - we know that meetings can be worrying.
You might, for instance, think of another adult who knows you well and who you would like to be there to support you. It might be best, sometimes, if you only attend for part of the Conference. Again, that will be discussed with you. In some cases we might have to say that you can't go along, even if you want to, but that would be unusual.
What if I don't attend?
Your Social Worker will talk to you to find out how you are and what you feel so that he or she can tell the meeting on your behalf. Even better you could write something yourself which could be read out at the Conference. We will always try as hard as we can to make sure the Conference knows your views and feelings.
Ask your Social Worker to see a video of what a Conference is like. This might help you decide if you want to go or if you would rather write something which will be read out or even say something on tape.
Your Social Worker will try to answer all your questions. If you come to the Conference you will be able to meet the Chairperson first. They can also answer any questions you may have.