Jersey SPB Logo
Size: View this website with small text View this website with medium text View this website with large text View this website with high visibility

Complaints and Appeals in Relation to Child Protection Conference

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure relates to the rights of parents/carers, professionals 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. Appeals Process
  3. Reconvened Conference

    Amendments to this Chapter


1. Eligibility to Use This Procedure

Children and Young People (with sufficient understanding), parents/carers and professionals who are eligible to use this procedure include the following

Any child or young person (with sufficient understanding based on Fraser Guidelines 1985/Gillick Competency 1985) subject to a Child Protection Plan or who has been considered

  • For a Child Protection Plan;
  • The parent of a child or young person who has parental responsibility for him or her;
  • Such other person as the Jersey Safeguarding Board consider has sufficient interest in the child or young person’s welfare to warrant his or her appeal being considered by them.

The process to be followed for is:

Complaints - if the issue is in relation to the way that a conference has been set up, performance of employees in relation to the conference, or is considered to be about the service, or lack of services, provided by a particular agency, then this is a complaint and should be dealt with through the Government of Jersey Complaints process and referred to feedback@health.gov.je. There is an established procedure for managing and investigating complaints using this process.

Agencies not covered by the Government of Jersey Feedback process will have their own complaints process which should be used to handle complaints about individual performance and the delivery (or non-delivery) of single agency services.

Appeals – an appeal can only be made about the multi-agency decisions made at a Child Protection Case Conference. The only ground for an appeal is that the conference decisions are unsound. This will need to evidence that either:

  1. The criteria for the decision that the child should be subject to a Child Protection Plan, as laid down in the Jersey Safeguarding Board Child Protection Procedures were, on the basis of the information presented at the conference, not met;
  2. That the criteria for the decision that the child should continue to have a Child Protection Plan, as laid down in the Jersey Safeguarding Board Child Protection Procedures, on the basis of the information presented at the conference, were not met;
  3. That the criteria for the decision that the Child Protection Plan should be discontinued, as laid down in the Jersey Safeguarding Board Child Protection Procedures, on the basis of the information presented at the conference,  were not met.

It may be that

  • It can be shown that significant information relevant to the decision was not available to the conference which may have altered a decision about the level of risk posed for the child;
  • Staff from other Agencies present at the conference significantly disagreed with the decision and this was not taken into account by the Chairperson;
  • The way that the Child Protection Conference was chaired prevented any person attending the conference being able to participate fully and this had a clear impact upon the Child Protection Decision.

All parties must be made aware that the appeals process cannot change a Child Protection Conference decision and that during the course of an appeal’s consideration, the decision made by the original Child Protection Conference stands.

At all stages of this appeals process, the complainant/appellant may bring an advocate (‘advocate’ in this context means a ‘supporter rather than a legal representative’) 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. Appeals Process

Stage One - Informal Stage

Who will be involved? The appellant and Child Protection Conference Chair.

If any concerns cannot be resolved immediately following the conference, the Conference Chair will ask the child, parent of professional to set out their appeal and the grounds for it, within 10 working days of the conference. The appellant should address the letter to the Conference Chair. If the appellant feels they need assistance with their written appeal they can seek support from a representative of their choice.

The Conference Chair will then arrange to discuss the appeal with the appellant in a meeting, within 5 working days of the receipt of the written appeal. If the appellant intends to bring a representative with them to attend the meeting, the appellant must notify the Conference Chair of the identity of the representative at least 2 working days prior to the planned Stage 1 meeting.

Notes will be made of the Stage 1 meeting and these will include the reason(s) for any decision(s) arising from the Stage 1 meeting. The Conference Chair will then ensure that the notes are sent to the appellant within 5 working days of the Stage 1 meeting. A copy of the notes will also be sent to the line manager of the Conference Chair, the Social Worker and the Social Workers, Team Manager.

There are three possible outcomes of this meeting:

  • The appellant’s issues are addressed to his/her satisfaction and resolved;
  • On reflection and following discussion with the appellant, the Conference Chair believes that there would be merit in reconvening the conference. In this event, the Conference Chair would communicate this view to the allocated social worker and their team manager;
  • The appellant’s issues are not addressed to his/her satisfaction.

If the matter is not addressed to the satisfaction of the appellant, there are two options that could be followed. These are to withdraw his/her appeal in writing to the Conference Chair or to take the appeal to the investigation stage (Stage 2) of this procedure. The Conference Chair will ask the appellant to confirm their intention to continue their appeal, in writing to the Conference Chair within 10 working days of receiving the written notes of the meeting.

Stage Two - Formal Stage - Investigation

Personnel involved in this meeting will be the Manager of ISS and the appellant.

When the Conference Chair receives the written notice of the appellant’s wish to proceed to stage 2 of this procedure, the Conference Chair must inform their line manager, Head of Service, Independent Safeguarding and Standards, (HoS ISS) who will consider:

  • Minutes of the Child Protection Conference;
  • Reports to Child Protection Conference;
  • Correspondence re complaint at Stage 1;
  • The HoS ISS will make contact with the appellant and any attendees of the conference that they consider to be relevant to the investigation.

The meeting should still aim to address areas of dissatisfaction and to resolve matters. Following the meeting the complainant should receive a letter to confirm what was agreed and to advise the complainant of their right to move to Stage 3 within 28 days, if they are still dissatisfied.

The SPB Board Manager should also be informed if the complainant wishes to progress to Stage 3 Complaints and Appeals Panel.

Stage Three - The Complaint and Appeal Panel

When will the Panel meet: The Appeal Panel will be convened within 15 working days of receipt of written notification from Stage 2.

Chair of the Panel: The SPB Chair or her/his nominee (appropriately qualified) will chair the Panel.

Membership of the Panel: The Panel will be an interagency panel made up of at least two senior representatives from SPB partner agencies, none of whom have previous or present direct line management responsibility for the case in question.

The SPB Team will provide a minute-taker.

Advisor to Panel: The panel chair has the authority to co-opt other professionals where specialist advice is needed.

Quoracy: The Chair of the SPB or her/his nominee (the Panel Chair) and at least two members of SPB partner agencies.

The Panel Chair can invite the following people to attend the panel meeting:

  • The appellant;
  • Their advocate;
  • The case holding social worker;
  • The social workers line manager;
  • The Conference Chair;
  • The Head of Service ISS.

The relevant documents will be provided to the panel no later than 5 working days prior to the Panel Meetings:

  • The social workers report to the previous child protection conference;
  • Child protection conference record agreed by the Conference Chair;
  • Any previous, relevant child protection conference reports and records;
  • The child protection plan associated with the conference records;
  • The notes made by the Conference Chair of the Stage 1 meeting held with the appellant;
  • The Stage 2 report completed by the Head of Service, ISS;
  • Any written documentation or reports provided by the appellant.

The Panel Chair will address any questions or concerns from the Appellant at the Panel meeting. All attendees should understand that the presentation sessions are about clarifying what each party’s opinions are of the appeal, rather than an opportunity to cross-examine attendees.

The meeting will begin with a presentation from the Appellant who will state the grounds for their appeal, the evidence to support it and their desired outcome of the proceedings.

The Chair will ensure that the presentations are reasonable and relevant, and will exercise discretion as necessary in limiting the scope or substance of the presentation or its duration.

The Chair will ensure that Panel members have the opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification from attendees as necessary.

The Chair will use their judgement to decide when proceedings have sufficiently reached their objective and Panel members are in a position to reach their findings and recommendations. The Chair will draw proceedings to a close and advise of the next steps.

At this point the Panel will go into closed session (with the Jersey Safeguarding Partnership Board Manager and any panel advisors) to deliberate on their findings and conclusions.

Scope of Decision–Making: The Panel may make one or more of the following decisions based on a majority view:

  • 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 and provide a suitable explanation;
  • Recommend Child Protection Conference is reconvened with the same or different conference chair, to reconsider a recommendation regarding decision that the child should be or continue to be, subject to a Child Protection Plan and the category of Significant Harm on which such decision is based;
  • 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;
  • To decide whether there are any learning points for a specific agency;
  • The Panel chair should ensure minutes are sent to the complainant / appellant and to all those who were sent minutes of Child Protection Conference and also to ensure any reconvened Child Protection Conference has full details of any recommendations made by the panel;
  • To communicate any specific concerns and recommendations relating to practice or procedure on the part of any SPB agency through the relevant Board member;
  • That a review conference is brought forward.

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

Within 5 working days of the Panel, the Panel Chair will ensure that the written decision / finding and / or minutes of the Panel meeting are sent to the complainant/appellant, to all who were sent minutes of the Child Protection Conference and a copy of the minutes will be given to the chair for any reconvened conference.


3. Reconvened Conference

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

For complaints and compliments about multi-agency procedures and outcomes please see Raising Concerns: a Guide to Making Complaints, Contributing Comments or Complimenting the Safeguarding Partnership Board.


Amendments to this Chapter

This chapter has been reviewed and updated in October 2019.

End.