The Family Group Conferencing Service is based in the Safeguarding Children Service.
A Family Group Conference (FGC) is a process in which families can be enabled to meet together, to find solutions to problems that they and their children are facing, within a professionally supportive framework. The FGC process involves all family members, friends and other adults who the family feel can contribute to the plans for the children.
FGCs are based on the principle of working in partnership. This entails a shift of power from professionals to families:
Families have more knowledge about themselves than professionals, which can lead them to make better decisions
Families are unable to make good decisions about their children, provided they are given the opportunity and information to do so
Family difficulties can be resolved by involving friends and extended family
Families have the strongest potential and motivation to care for their own children
Families provide identity and continuity for their children's future
Families can make culturally sensitive plans
Children are generally best looked after by their own families
Each Conference will have an independent co-ordinator who will meet with both the young person and the family before the conference and answer any questions they may have. (S)he will also discuss with the family who they want to attend, and agree where the meeting is held.
The co-ordinator will talk to the young person about how they would like to contribute to the meeting and whether (s)he would like an advocate to attend to assist him/her to put forward his/her views. The young person may also choose to contribute by other means if (s)he feels unable to attend the conference. The meeting will be made up of three parts:
The family are left alone to discuss the situation and put together a plan to address and resolve the concerns.
When the family are ready, the other members of the conference will rejoin them so that the family can explain their plan and the referrer can say if they feel this appropriately covers the concerns they have raised. You may be asked to offer support and resources and provide any suitable signposting to support services.
On completion of the conference a review date may be agreed to consider the effectiveness of the plan.
At the heart of the idea of Family Group Conferences is the involvement of the young person or child. It is important that (s)he is listened to and his/her views and ideas given value by everyone that attends.
Family Group Conferences are not an easy option. Sometimes they will raise some uncomfortable issues for the family members. It is the role of the co-ordinator to keep things on track and be available to assist, support and deal with any issues that may arise from the dynamics of the family group.
Because of the nature of the conference, it may be daunting for some staff to be excluded from some parts of the meeting and to be faced with different process for decision-making. Research shows however that this method of engaging young people and families consistently provides positive results.
A Family Group Conference should not be viewed as a ''cure-all''. It is sometimes just the start of a much longer process.
At the conclusion of the conference you will be asked to complete a short questionnaire to gauge your views on the conference.
The referrer and agencies explain to everyone what their concerns are and why, giving clear information regarding their available support.
In Coventry, Family Group Conferences have been developed as part of the children and young people's strategic partnership, to offer agencies a new approach to ensure that families and children remain at the centre of our assessment and planning.
In Coventry an FGC will be considered where a CAF (Common Assessment Framework), or initial assessment has been completed, and identified a child with complex needs who will have poor life chances if services are not co-ordinated.
A referral to the project will require:
- The existence of a network of family members
- The commitment of the family to develop a plan to address the concerns identified in the assessment
Referrals will not be considered where:
There is a history of inter-generational sexual abuse
There is a high risk of violence at the conference
If you are working with a family who you consider would benefit from a Family Group Conference, for further information and a referral form please contact:
The Family Group Conference Manager(s)
Tel: 024 7683 2699
Tel: 024 7683 2699