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3.1.9 Family Group Conference Service

This chapter was introduced into the manual in November 2017 and replaced a similar chapter.


Contents

  1. What is a Family Group Conference (FGC)?
  2. Why have a Family Group Conference?
  3. When Should I Refer a Child / Young Person for a Family Group Conference?
  4. What Happens in a Family Group Conference?
  5. The Child / Young Person's Voice
  6. Referral Process for Family Group Conferences


1. What is a Family Group Conference (FCG)?

Family Group Conference (FGC) is a meeting of extended family members and friends who work together to draw up a support plan for the care of a child/young person (0-18 years old ) who is at risk.

Children/young people are encouraged to be involved in the conference if appropriate, often with support from a trusted adult or professional advocate.


2. Why have a Family Group Conference?

Research shows that families involved with decision making contribute well to the long-term protection and care of children.

FGC’s promote the strengths that families and communities bring to the process that the social worker may be unaware of, e.g. resources, commitment, knowledge of the family and relationships.


3. When Should I Refer a Child / Young Person for a Family Group Conference?

It is best to hold a FGC before concerns reach child protection thresholds. Families are more likely to invest in the process if they enter it voluntarily.

FGC's can be particularly helpful where:

  • The extended family network is large and complicated – or is unknown to professionals;
  • The family have not previously wanted to work with professionals or to give them contact with extended family;
  • There are rifts or tensions within the extended family network that have made working together difficult.


4. What Happens in a Family Group Conference?

The FGC co-ordinator contacts every person invited to the conference. They prepare the child, advocate, parent(s), extended family and friends network, social worker to meet together at a neutral location. The social worker shares a summary of concerns and leaves the room with the co-ordinator allowing the network privacy for as long as they need to:

  • Make a plan showing how their involvement will help the parents meet the needs of the child and keep them safe;
  • Make Contingency plans if the original plan is not successful e.g. identifying alternative carers for the child;
  • Agree on how the plan will be monitored and reviewed.

The network shares the plan with the social worker and co-ordinator. The social worker may have to seek out further agreement and resources if necessary to agree the plan.

The FGC coordinator writes up the plan and distributes it to the social worker and network.

The outcome of the plan depends on the family and social worker working together and keeping in close communication about progress and problems.

The network can request a FGC review at any time and these are generally seen as good practice to ensure the plan is meeting the child/young person’s needs.


5. The Child / Young Person's Voice

The views of the child/young person are paramount in their FGC. Having an advocate is essential to ensure their voice is heard. An advocate can be someone already known to them e.g. teacher, coach, family member, youth worker or a referral can be made to Brighton & Hove’s Youth Advocacy Project to request a professional advocate.


6. Referral Process for Family Group Conferences

Email your FGC Referral form (saved on the Child in Need and Child Protection page on One Space) to familygroupconference@brighton-hove.gov.uk.

If you are uncertain about whether or when an FGC can help with a family situation please email the FGC Service leaving your contact details and we will aim to get back to you within 48 hours.

End