What happens when adults are concerned about a child’s safety?

When someone reports a concern about a child to Children’s Services a social worker must talk to the person making the referral (sharing their concern). This is to make sure that their concerns are understood and there are no misunderstandings.

By the next day the social worker and his or her manager need what to do next. The options are:

  • Do nothing

  • Tell the police


    Find out a bit more before making a decision (called an assessment)

  • Take urgent action to make sure the child or young person is safe there and then.

Finding out more and doing an assessment

The reason as assessment is started is to find out information to help social workers to decide what is the nest thing to do for the child or young person. An assessment is done by speaking to those around you that know you and maybe your sisters and brothers, like:


Health visitors

Parents, step parents and grandparents



The most important person to talk to is YOU – it is important that you are given the chance to tell the social worker about what is worrying you, who or where you feel safe and anything else you feel they need to know.

The social worker should share the assessment (what they think) with you and your family and what they think will be a good plan to make sure all of your needs are met, and you are safe.

Do I have to talk to the social worker?

No, you don’t have to …. But it helps. If you don’t want to talk to the social worker why not write something down, draw a picture, send an email – or ask someone to support you talking to the social worker, like an advocate?

What if they decide me and my family need some help?

If the social worker and the other professionals working with you feel that you could benefit from some help they might suggest a support plan like a ‘child with complex needs’ plan. This plan makes sure that all of the professionals working with you and your family know what part of the plan they are responsible for and what they need to do to help you.

What if they decide I need help to keep me safe?

If others think that you are unsafe in the here and now (immediately going to be hurt) the police can take action to make you safe.

If it is thought you are at risk of being hurt or harmed, there may be an Initial Child Protection Conference. This is an important meeting where careful consideration will be given about whether a child protection plan is needed. If you are old enough you can go to the meeting, or you may ask for someone to go for you to give your views about what you want to happen next. Alternatively, you can also ask to meet with the chair of the meeting to share your views.

The aim of the child protection plan is to make sure that you are safe and to do what ever can be done to stop you being harmed in the future.

When do child protection plans and child protection conferences stop?

If you are on a child protection plan, this will stop when:

  • You are safe; or
  • You move away; or
  • You turn 18 years old.