Case conferences - advice

This advice provides information about convening a case conference in the intake phase.

Document ID number 2021, version 2, 1 March 2016.

Introduction

A case conference may be held in intake for the purpose of assessing the risk to a child or determining an appropriate service provider, or, after classification as a wellbeing report, for the purpose of coordinating referral and closure.

Specific procedures apply where:

Request to attend an external case conference

A request for child protection to attend a case conference that is being arranged by another agency about a child who is not a current client is likely to constitute a report, and the child protection practitioner should obtain sufficient detail from the caller to determine that the issues do not, at that stage, necessitate immediate classification as a protective intervention report.

Appropriate circumstances for a case conference at intake

Where a case conference is convened in the intake phase before a report has been classified as a protective intervention report or a wellbeing report, information exchange must comply with legislative provisions contained in Section 35 of the CYFA. This section specifies and restricts the classes of person with whom child protection may consult and the purposes for which this consultation may occur at the intake phase.

A case conference may be appropriate where:

  • there are a number of professionals and agencies already involved with the family
  • there is differing information being presented by professionals regarding, for example, the physical presentation or behaviour of a child
  • there are differing opinions regarding the nature, cause or the seriousness of protective concerns, for example, amongst medical practitioners who have examined a child who has a concerning injury
  • involved professionals or agencies have differing opinions on the management of the situation
  • a number of agencies or services may be involved in providing assistance in the future.

For information gathering and risk assessment

The purpose of a case conference prior to classification of a report will be to:

  • share information and knowledge about the child and family relevant to the intake assessment
  • consider the current and future risks of harm to the child's safety, development and wellbeing
  • consider protective factors
  • consider the child's needs and available resources or support services for meeting these needs.

To determine how best to provide assistance

Where the intake assessment has resulted in a report being classified as a child wellbeing report or an unborn child report a case conference may be an appropriate mechanism to determine how best to provide support assistance. The purpose will be to:

  • share information and knowledge about the child and family relevant to determining how best to assist
  • identify support agencies and other resources to address concerns about the child's wellbeing
  • clarify who has responsibility for case management and for providing assistance
  • determine the process for re-reporting if child protection is closing the case.

Unborn child reports

For unborn child reports the child protection practitioner in consultation with their supervisor should give consideration to holding a case conference in complex case circumstances.  The practice leader may also be a useful resource to assist in the planning and decision making to develop a response to an unborn child report. The case conference must involve the mother and with her consent, the father or partner and extended family unless there are exceptional circumstances or this would not be in the unborn child's best interests. See procedure Unborn child reports for tasks that must be undertaken.

Considerations regarding key performance indicators (KPIs)

Coordinating a case conference at intake may affect the throughput of a report that may require investigation (that is, the 14 day KPI), particularly if key professionals are difficult to contact or cannot attend within the necessary timelines. If a case conference is a standard requirement or pivotal to decision making, there will need to be a discussion with your team manager regarding how to manage these conflicting demands.

Information sharing

See the intake section of Information sharing to ensure compliance with the CYFA and the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014.

Recording the outcome

The child protection practitioner convening a case conference should ensure that relevant information shared and all risk issues identified at the case conference are documented on the client file and that the agreed action plan is circulated to all participants including those who were unable to attend.

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