A Family Group Conference (FGC) can bring about positive changes for you and your family.
All families can face a wide range of difficulties at times. Usually they are able to resolve these themselves but sometimes the problems are more complicated and extra help may be needed.
In cases where the issues relate to the care of children, it may be useful to hold a Family Group Conference. This is a way of giving families (including children and young people) the chance to get together to try and make the best plan for the children.
When used at an early stage of concerns about a child, FGCs can reduce the need for children to enter care. The conferences can ensure that resources from within the family network are tapped for the benefit of the child and that additional support from the health services, education department, children's social care services and other agencies are available if required.
We believe that families know more about their situation than professionals and can often make better decisions and plans for their children. The aim of the conference is to support families in doing this.
Examples of what a FGC can achieve include:
There is agreement between the family members and staff from an organisation such as the council, school or health services that a FGC should be held.
An independent coordinator is then appointed who will set up the meeting and prepare the family for it. Part of this process will see children and young people given the advice and guidance they need to play a central role in the meeting.
All information shared with the coordinator will remain confidential unless it poses a risk to someone.
There are three stages to a FGC:
Stage 1: Information giving
The workers most closely involved will explain to the family why they are worried about the children/young person and what resources and services are available to support the family.
At this stage, the family may also ask for any additional information they need to help in drawing up a plan to resolve the problems.
Stage 2: Private family time
This is time for the family to talk in private so that they can:
Stage 3: Agreeing the plan
Once the family have agreed the plan, they will discuss it with the coordinator and referrer. The plan will be accepted unless it places the child/young person at risk or does not address the original concerns.
The plan will be written up by the coordinator and copies will be sent to everyone involved in implementing the plan.
If families cannot agree a safe plan it may be possible to hold another FGC. If this is not possible, alternative ways of resolving the original concerns will be made by the Children's Social Care team and the coordinator.
Referral from school who had concerns over a 14-year-old boy. His mother was a single parent who was also caring for three younger children. She was struggling to care for the 14-year-old who had a declining record of school attendance and had been damaging property and staying away from home overnight.
At the Family Group Conference, it was agreed that the child would spend regular weekends with his grandparents. His aunt, meanwhile, would support his mother in attending meetings at the school.
It was also agreed that an older cousin, who was felt to be a positive influence, would spend more time with the boy.
Referral from Health Visitor. A mother with a terminal illness had two children, aged two years and six months. Neither father played any role in the family's life. There were concerns both about the current situation and about who would care for the children after their mother's death.
The mother's parents and the paternal aunt of one of the children agreed to make regular visits to check on the mother's well-being. The grandmother agreed to help take the older child to nursery.
It was agreed that the children would spend alternate weekends with an aunt and uncle, who would also provide long-term care.
The mother's local authority agreed to provide a nursery place for older child immediately and for both children in the future as the aunt and uncle worked full time.