A family group conference (FGC) is a voluntary, family decision making process to address concerns raised by professionals about your child
It is an opportunity for family members, close friends and your child to get together to try to find a solution to a problem or to find ways to support your family to keep your children safe. It will also enable you to know what support is available to you and your family from professionals and you will be able to say what support you feel you need.
Our vision is for every child in the Dudley borough to have the right to an opportunity to have a Family Group Conference at every stage of their journey within Early Help and Social Care.
Who should come to the Family Group Conference? (FGC)
- The best person to help your child or young person is usually a relative or close friend.
- It is extremely important that your child is involved in the FGC and has a say about how they feel about the situation. All children and young people are offered an advocate, who will help them prepare and support them at the FGC.
- The convenor will visit everyone that you want to attend to explain the process, and answer any questions or concerns you may have.
- You decide who attends, the date, time and venue for the conference.
What is the process?
On the day - information sharing
- The convenor will ask everyone to introduce themselves and ensure everyone understands what the meeting is about.
- They will agree on some rules for success to help the FGC run smoothly and remain focused on the problems or issues that need to be resolved.
- The referrer (social worker/early help worker/other professional) will be asked to talk about what has brought you to the FGC. They will discuss with you the strengths within the family, their concerns and what needs to happen next.
- You will then have the opportunity to ask any questions.
Private Family Time - the most important part of the FGC.
- Professionals leave the room and you have time to discuss and make a family plan that is detailed and that promotes the safety of the child.
- The Convenor will remain on hand if you need to check anything out.
The Family Plan
- When you are ready to share your family plan, professionals are invited back into the room.
- If safe, the Family Plan will be agreed by the referrer; sometimes this has to be subject to further checks being made.
- The Convenor will give all attendees a copy of the Family Plan and also ask for a person in the family to become the main contact or the ‘Monitor’ of the plan. It is their role to contact the Convenor if any part of the plan is not able to be put in place.
- The Convenor will also offer a review date.
What are the timescales?
The timescale from allocation to the FGC being held is 6-8 weeks. This can vary dependent upon family engagement, locality and number of invitees to prepare.
Initial Family Response Meeting
In emergencies we can organise an initial Family Response Meeting. This may be required more quickly than an FGC and we strive to offer a small scale family meeting within 72 hours of an emergency situation i.e. emergency accommodation. This service can be accessed by contacting the FGC team.
- For more information, advice and support visit the Family Rights Group.
Information for Professionals
The aims and objectives of the FGC
- To empower the family to participate in the care and protection of the children and take parental responsibility whenever possible.
- To explore the resources available from within the family, the local community and relevant agencies both statutory and voluntary.
- To agree on an appropriate plan which will meet the needs of the children, and strengthen future relationships.
- To keep children within the family whenever possible.
Who can make a referral?
Professionals within Early Help, Social Care and other Lead Professionals through Multi Agency Action Meetings (MAAMs).
Expectations of the referrer
- Once completed referrers must share the referral form with the family/person with parental responsibility and gain the parents’ consent through signature on the form and return to the FGC Co-coordinator via the FGC Service Inbox. (Due to data protection (GDPR) we are unable to progress any referrals without a signature of consent.)
- The referrer needs to be available on the day of the FGC to offer information and answer questions at the start of the meeting and to consider the Family Plan at the end.
- The Referrers’ acceptance of the Family Plan may be subject to relevant checks being made to ensure the Plan promotes the safety and well being of the child.
Expectations of the FGC Convenor
We expect that the FGC Convenor:
- meets with the referrer to clarify information
- meets with family to identify the family’s choice of invitees
- prepares all invitees, sharing the information on the referral form
The FGC Convenor engages with the child/young person to promote the voice of the child within the FGC, considering use of advocacy and finding innovative ways of representing their views. They will always convey any safeguarding issues to the referrer.
How is a referral made?
Our referral form is available to download below.