This page has been written to give you more information about what happens if there is a child protection investigation involving your child or children.
We explain how social workers and other professionals will gather information about your child and family and use this to make an assessment of your child's well-being.
We explain what will happen next, if your child is assessed as being at continued risk of significant harm.
If there are concerns about your child's welfare, professionals will normally ask for your permission before gathering information from others. If your child is old enough, they will also ask their permission. However, it is important to remember that professionals can share information about your child without your permission if they believe that he or she is at risk of suffering significant harm.
When concerns have been raised about your child by professionals or by a member of the public, it is a social worker's job to gather information to see whether or not your child's welfare is being harmed.
The social worker will start by trying to talk to you and your family. In the vast majority of cases, they will visit you at home (sometimes with a Child Protection Police Officer) to:
Discuss with you and obtain information from other professionals who know you and your child. This helps the social worker to build a picture of you and your child's needs and help decide on the level of risk, if any, they may be at.
If the social worker feels that your child is at risk of significant harm they do not need your permission to gather more information.
The social worker will use the information that they gather to make an initial assessment of your child's needs, in line with government guidance.
If it is thought that a crime may have been committed, the police will be involved. Thurrock social workers work jointly with the Police Child Abuse Investigation Unit. This is made up of officers who have had special training to work with children and families and they do not wear uniforms. Government guidance and childcare law state that the police must be involved when there are concerns that an offence has taken place against a child.
If their assessment is that your child does not need additional support, no further action will be taken. This can happen when no evidence is found to support the concerns that have been reported.
If their assessment is that you or your child would benefit from extra support, you will be encouraged to access support services that can help.
If their assessment is that your child is at risk of significant harm there will be a child protection investigation.
A 'strategy meeting' or discussion involving social workers, the police and, where appropriate, other workers such as health professions or the school who know your child, will decide how to investigate the concerns that have been reported and how best to protect your child.
If it is believed that your child has been injured or is in need of medical treatment, experienced doctors will need to do an examination. In most situations, you can come to the hospital with your child.
Your child may have an interview with a social worker and a police officer that is videoed. He or she will be encouraged to tell the interviewers what has happened to them in their own words. This interview is relaxed and takes place a specially designed room. It is videoed to limit the number of times your child has to speak to professionals.
If you do not wish to give your permission for an interview or a medical examination, the social workers must seek legal advice and where necessary will apply to the courts for an order to enable them to interview the child and/or child to have a medical.
The social workers and the police will consider whether your child, or children, are still at risk. If it is believed that you may have committed an offence you will be formally interviewed by the police. Your rights will be explained to you, and you have the right to seek legal advice.
In most circumstances this will not happen and Child Protection Investigations are carried out whilst children remain at home. However, in certain circumstances where your child is viewed as in immediate danger, action will be taken to remove the child from the danger. This may mean asking the person posing the risk to leave the home, placing the child with family or friends or where neither of these are appropriate you may be asked for your permission for the child to be placed outside of the family by agreeing for the Local Authority to accommodate the child. In some cases the social worker will apply to the court for an Emergency Protection Order.
Your social worker will tell you what is going on and consult with you about your child all through the investigation. They will be open with you at all times unless this would put your child in danger. Throughout the investigation you can ask your social worker to explain the procedure and they will answer any of your questions.
You are entitled to see independent or legal advice at any time during the investigation. You have the right to read the social worker's record of your child and family. Please ask your social worker about this.
At the end of the investigation it may be decided that there is a need to hold a Child Protection Conference to which you will usually be invited. The purpose of the Conference is to:
All the professionals who work with your child will be invited to the Conference including the Police Child Abuse Investigation Team. It will be chaired by a Child Protection Co-ordinator, whose job it is to ensure that everyone gets a chance to contribute their views.
It is really important that you give your views to the Conference as they will be central to the decisions that are made. In order to help you with this:
Those present at the Conference will design a plan to protect your child and provide help and support for your family. This plan is then developed further and worked on by a core group of involved professionals and family members. It will be important for you to work with professionals so the risk to your child can be reduced with the aim of the child no longer needing a Child Protection Plan.
The first Core Group meeting should take place within 10 working days of the Conference.
There is a requirement on the Local Authority to convene a review Child Protection Conference within three months of the initial Conference to review what progress has been made in implementing the plan.
The Local Authority are required to hold further Review Conferences as necessary at six month intervals.
If the risks to your child do not reduce or become more serious the Local Authority will need to consider what further action could better protect your child.
If you are worried about an allegation, suspicion or complaint made by a child or adult against an adult who works with children or young people then you need to contact the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO). The LADO in Thurrock can be contacted on 01375 652732. If you are a professional and need Safeguarding or Child Protection Advice then you may contact Thurrock's Safeguarding and Advice Team on 01375 652732.
Thurrock Local Safeguarding Children Board is committed to ensuring that families going through the Child Protection process have access to information and support and are treated with consideration and respect. If you have any comments or suggestions about how we can improve our practice we would like to hear from you.
If you are not happy with the way in which you or your child has been treated then you can complain. You can get information and leaflets from all council offices about the complaints procedure.
If you wish to complain about the person who chaired the conference or any decisions made at the Conference, you should write to:
Head of Service, Quality Assurance, Child Protection and Review, Thurrock Council, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays RM17 6SL.
The Local Safeguarding Children Board is made up of senior officers from all the statutory agencies in Thurrock with a role to play in keeping children safe. It has a duty to ensure that the work we all do to safeguard children is well-coordinated and effective.