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Complaints in Relation to Child Protection Conferences

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 of Child Protection Conferences or appeal against a Conference decision.


Contents

  1. Eligibility to Use This Procedure
  2. Child Protection Conferences - Definition of a Complaint
  3. Grounds for Appeal Against Conference Decision
  4. Procedure
  5. Further Challenge


1. Eligibility to Use This Procedure

Parents/carers and, on occasion, children (with sufficient age and understanding) may have concerns about which they wish to complain, in respect of one or more of the following aspects of the functioning of a Child Protection Conference:

  • The process of the Conference;
  • The factual basis of the outcome, in that it does not support the category of an Initial or continuing Child Protection Plan;
  • A decision to make a child the subject of a Child Protection Plan, to discontinue a Child Protection Plan or to continue with a Child Protection Plan.

Complaints about aspects of the functioning of Conferences described above should be addressed to the Conference Chair. Such complaints should then be passed on to the Chair's manager in Children's Social Care and the Local Authority Children and Family service (see Hull City Council website).

The complaints process can not in itself change a Child Protection Conference decision and while the complaint is being considered, the decision made by the Conference stands.

At all stages of this complaints process, the person making the complaint 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.


2. Child Protection Conferences - Definition of a Complaint

A complaint can be dealt with under this procedure if concerns one or more of the aspects of the functioning of a Child Protection Conference as set out in Section 1, Eligibility to Use This Procedure.

The complaints procedure is not an appeals process against a decision that the person making the complaint does not agree with. It cannot be used to reconsider and overturn a decision which has been arrived at in a fair, reasonable and proper manner.

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 complaints handling process.

If the complaint is about the conduct or actions of the Chair, it will initially be investigated by the Independent Conferencing and Reviewing Officer (ICRO) Manager.


3. Grounds for Appeal Against Conference Decision

The grounds for challenging a Conference decision may be:

  • That the criteria for a Child Protection Plan were not met;
  • That the criteria for continuing a Child Protection Plan were not met;
  • That the Child Protection Plan should not have been discontinued; and/or
  • That the information on which the Conference decision was based proved substantially incorrect.


4. Procedure

Complaints can be made to:

If a parent / carer or child wishes to lodge a complaint, this should be done within 10 working days of the Conference.

The complaint will be acknowledged in writing within 3 working days of receipt and an appointment offered to attempt resolution within 10 working days.

4.1 Informal Stage

This is a problem-solving stage during which the Chair and their line manager will try to resolve the concerns of the person making the complaint.

The Complaints Service will write to the person making the complaint within 5 working days of the meeting, confirming the points of complaint, and any actions agreed to resolve it. The person making the complaint will be invited, if still dissatisfied, to make a response to the Complaints Service within 5 working days of receiving the letter.

On receipt of a dissatisfied response from the parent / carer, or child making the complaint, the Complaints Service will liaise with the Hull Safeguarding Children Board Manager to determine whether the criteria has been met to progress the complaint to the multi –agency panel stage.

The decision reached and the reasons for this will be communicated back to the parent / carer or child by the Hull Safeguarding Children Board Manager.

4.2 Multi Agency Panel Stage

If the decision of the Hull Safeguarding Children Board Manager and the Complaints Service is that the complaint will progress to the Multi agency panel stage:

  • The Panel will be set up by the Hull Safeguarding Children Board within 15 working days of receipt of the notice of dissatisfaction response from the informal stage. Panel members will be senior representatives of the agencies involved in the Conference which is the subject of the complaint;
  • The Hull Safeguarding Children Board Manager or his/her nominee will chair the Panel. The panel Chair has the authority to co-opt other professionals onto the panel where specialist advice is needed;
  • The Hull Safeguarding Children Board will provide a minute-take; and
  • The Hull Safeguarding Children Board Manager will ensure that sufficient agencies are represented on the Panel to ensure that the Panel is effective.

The panel will have access to:

  • The Conference Record;
  • All reports submitted to the Conference; and
  • Correspondence about the complaint at the informal stage.

The panel will consider:

  • How the Conference was conducted, and whether the procedures were followed properly;
  • Whether it was reasonable to come to the decision about developing, continuing or discontinuing a Child Protection Plan.

The Panel will make a decision as to whether the complaint(s) are upheld or not upheld based on a majority view. The possible outcomes available to the panel are:

  • That Child Protection Conference procedures were followed correctly;
  • That Child Protection Conference procedures were not followed correctly and recommend how to remedy this;
  • To support the original Child Protection Conference decision;
  • To Recommend the Child Protection Conference is reconvened with a different Conference Chair;
  • To decide they have insufficient information to make a decision and set out a timescale for completing the task and set a date for a further panel.

The panel should also consider whether there are any learning points for all agencies or a specific agency.

The Panel Chair should ensure that:

  • A record is sent to the person making the complaint;
  • A record is sent to all those who were sent the Conference record; and
  • Any reconvened Child Protection Conference has full details of any recommendations made by the panel.

Any specific concerns and recommendations relating to practice or procedure should be communicated to the relevant Hull Safeguarding Children Board member.

N.B. The Panel does not have the authority to reverse a Conference decision.

If the complaint is not upheld, the Panel Chair will write to the person making the complaint, giving reasons for the decision within 5 working days of the meeting.

If the complaint is upheld, the Child Protection Conference will be reconvened with the same participants and a different Independent Chair. This Conference must be held within 15 working days of the Panel meeting. The reconvened Conference will consider the recommendations of the Panel and follow the due process as described in the Child Protection Conferences Procedure.

The Chair of a reconvened Child Protection Conference must ensure that all those present are aware of or are briefed at the start of the meeting about the decision and any recommendation(s) made by the Panel. A record of the Panel meeting will also be circulated at the Conference.


5. Further Challenge

A complainant who continues to be dissatisfied with the outcome of the above process could pursue their complaint via the Local Government Ombudsman or choose to seek legal advice about remedies such as a Judicial Review.

End.