The Core Group

The core group is identified at the initial child protection conference. It is made up of the parents and the professionals who work most closely with the child.

Initial Core Group Meeting

The first core group meeting should take place within 10 days of the initial child protection conference to agree the details of the child protection plan.

Developing the Child Protection Plan

The aim of the plan is to keep the child safe and healthy. Usually this is done by working with the parents and wider family members to develop better ways of looking after the child.

The plan should take into account the views of the child and their family, so long as this is consistent with keeping the child safe.

The child protection plan should set out what work needs to be done, why, when and by whom. The plan should identify :

The plan should make reference to the My World Triangle.

Who is responsible for the plan?

All members of the core group have responsibility for the child protection plan, and should work together to ensure its success.

If any part of the plan outlined by the child protection conference cannot be carried out, the core group must consider if another child protection conference is needed.

The plan will be examined whenever the core group meets or there is a review child protection conference.

Lessons from research

Harlow and Shardlow found that differing views about thresholds often caused tension, with social workers feeling that other professionals had a lower tolerance of risk and were worrying unnecessarily. They found it hard to get across the reality that they could not nanny everyone and did not want to create dependency.

For the core group to work effectively, understanding and trust between the members is necessary; these take time to develop. The study found that it was common for the social worker to change several times during the life of a core group. Ongoing vacancies and high levels of turnover in social work teams often stood in the way of building trusting relationships.

See Harlow E and Shardlow S M: Safeguarding children: challenges to the effective operation of core groups in Child and Family Social Work, Vol 11, Issue 1 (2006)