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Family Group Conferences

Family Group Conferences

Family Group Conferences

The Family Group Conference (FGC) is a voluntary decision making meeting which will be arranged and chaired by an Independent  Co-ordinator. They are based on the principles of collaborative working to enable families to find their own achievable solutions in the child’s/young person’s best interest. The process aims to build on the family's strengths, both maternal and paternal, and to empower them to understand fully the concerns and issues raised by Children’s Social Care. 

Family Group Conferences promotes family unity, to agree a safe and sustainable plan, where necessary with the support of professional services and community networks, to keep their children safe now and in the future.

Family is defined broadly to include the child, parents, extended family and close family friends who are concerned about the child. Father’s participation and attendance is actively encouraged as their input is deemed as pivotal to the process and outcomes, where appropriate. Family can withdraw from the voluntary Family Group Conference Process at any point if they wish to do so.

The FGC Service works creatively to ensure that the child’s voice is pivotal to the decision making process that have an impact on their lives and indeed those of their family, within a variety settings including Early Intervention, Child Protection, Children in Care, Domestic Abuse, Alcohol and Drug Misuse, Foster Care Breakdown, Child as Young Carers, family breakdown issues, as well as other significant key areas.

The Family Group Conference Co-ordinator will undertake face to face meetings with all the family, children and key professionals, to ensure they understand the concerns that have been raised. They will also ask all concerned who they think should attend, and where and when the meeting should take place. The greater the understanding and clarity provided to the family of ‘risk factors’ identified by Children’s Social Care, the greater the ownership, and successful change is achieved by the family, child/young person through this solution focused process.

The FGC Co-ordinator will talk to the children about how they would like to contribute to their meeting and whether they would like an Advocate to attend to help put forward their views. The children may also choose to contribute by other means if they feel unable to attend the conference. The aim of the conference is to empower the children and the family to come up with an agreed, safe and sustainable plan that will enable resolution and enact change.

There are three key stages to the FGC meeting:

Information Sharing (Stage One)

At this stage the Referrer and other appropriate key agencies or professionals will explain to all participants what their concerns are and the reasons for the Family Group Conference, giving clear information regarding their available support, and indeed the strengths within the family. The Family, Child/Young Person has an opportunity at this stage to seek clarify on any information provided or ask additional questions, which will assist them to achieve a robust FGC Plan.

Private Family Time (Stage Two)

Stage Two of the meeting is whereby the FGC Co-ordinator and other key agencies/professionals leave the meeting room, and the family is left alone to discuss the concerns of Children’s Social Care, and pull together a safe plan to address and resolve the issues raised, using the information and questions provided to them through the preparation process and indeed the Information Sharing Stage of the meeting.

Agreeing the FGC Plan

When the family, child/young person, are happy and in agreement of their FGC Plan, the FGC Co-ordinator, Referrer and other key professionals will rejoin the family within the meeting room, this provides the family with an opportunity to explain and present their FGC plan. At this Stage the referrer, FGC Co-ordinator or other key professionals may ask questions or clarification to ensure that the plan is robust and meets the needs of the child/young person. The Referrer has the final agreement of the plan, and if they feel the Family’s FGC Plan addresses safely and appropriately the concerns that have been raised.

Family Group Conferences promote working with families, not doing 'to' or 'for'.

Contact details:

Family Group Conference Service
1 Walton Grove
HP21 7SL
Telephone: 01296 387417 / Email Address: familygroupconference@buckscc.gov.uk