Will a child protection process begin if there are concerns that a parent or carer is suffering with mental ill-health?
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This will depend on the precise situation. But if children’s services suspect a child is suffering significant harm or is likely to suffer significant harm, then they must investigate. This is called making child protection enquiries.
When children’s services make child protection enquiries they aim to:
- Gather information about the child and their family
- Assess the family’s situation
- Decide whether they think the child is suffering ‘ significant harm’
- Decide whether they think the child is likely to suffer ‘significant harm’
- Decide whether they should take any action to keep the child safe and promote their welfare.
Where the enquiries show a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer significant harm, an initial child protection conference must take place. This is a meeting arranged by children’s services.
The child protection conference decides:
- Whether a child protection plan needs to be developed to keep the child safe and well
- The date for any future child protection review conference.
If the conference decides a child protection plan is needed then an outline plan should be put together. This plan should:
- Identify the things that are likely to cause harm to the child
- Identify how the child can be protected from those things
- Ensure the child is kept safe, well cared for and is prevented from suffering further harm
- Support the parents or carers and their wider family to keep their child safe and well cared for.
Adult social care and other mental health practitioners working with the parent or carers should be invited to attend key meetings. This may include strategy meetings, child protection conferences and core groups.
See our Child protection page for more information about the child protection process.