Children's services has a responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare and safety of children in need. To do this, children's services aims to work with parents and families in the best interests of the children by listening to their views when making decisions.
Where we believe that a young person or child appears to be at risk of harm, we have a duty by law to investigate their situation. We talk to the child or young person, their family and all of those agencies who are directly involved.
In some situations where a crime may have been committed we will also involve the police. If the assessment indicates that the child is at risk of harm – this can be physical, emotional, sexual (CSE) or neglect – a child protection case conference may be called. This is a meeting of all key agencies involved with the child, the key family members and the child where appropriate.
The child protection plan
The case conference can decide whether a child needs to have a child protection plan. The plan sets out what action needs to be taken by all the agencies and the family to meet the child's needs and reduce the areas of risk and concern. The family and the agencies meet together on a regular basis to look at how the plan is progressing.
Most children with a child protection plan remain at home with their families and, with the support from children's services, the difficulties are dealt with and the child ceases to have a child protection plan. A meeting of all the family members can be arranged - called a family group conference - to help the family identify extended family members who can help in keeping the child safe and meeting their needs.
It is only when there are great difficulties and the child's needs cannot be met by their family, that children's services needs to arrange for them to stay elsewhere. When this happens, we will always look for alternative carers within the family.
Are you worried a child is at risk?
If you are concerned that a child or young person is being harmed through abuse or neglect you should contact the children's services advice and assessment team on 020 7364 5601 or 020 7364 5606.
Alternatively you can speak to a police officer, teacher, health visitor, doctor or the NSPCC.