Family Group Conferences (FGC)
Family Group Conferences (FGC) are for families where Children's Social Care has identified possible risk factors. The FGC is a voluntary meeting which makes decisions. It is arranged and chaired by an Independent Co-ordinator.
Families can find their own achievable solutions by working with a team. FGC promotes family unity. Where necessary, it uses the support of professional services and community networks. It works to a family's strengths to help them understand the concerns raised by Children's Social Care. Family Group Conferences promote working with families, not doing 'to' or 'for'.
The Family Group Conference process is voluntary. The family can withdraw at any point if they wish to do so.
What "family" means
In the FGC, "family" is a broad term, and includes:
- the child
- extended family
- close family friends
How the Family Group Conference can help
The FGC Service works creatively to ensure a child’s voice is heard during the decision making process. We understand the impact on their lives, and indeed those of their family. The aim of the conference is to support the children and the family agree on a safe, long-term plan that will improve family life.
The Family Group Conference co-ordinator
The FGC co-ordinator will speak to the family, children, and key professionals. This helps them decide who should attend, and where and when the meeting should take place. They will then arrange face to face meetings and discuss any concerns raised. The more the family understands the 'risk factors' identified by Children's Social Care, the greater the chance for successful change.
The FGC co-ordinator will talk to the children about how they would like to contribute to their meeting. This includes seeing if they would like an advocate to attend to help put forward their views. Children may also choose to contribute by other means if they feel unable to attend the conference.
The 3 key stages of the FGC meeting
There are 3 key stages to the FGC meeting. These help break down the concerns raised and help the family come up with a plan to tackle it.
Stage 1 - Information sharing
At this stage the referrer, and other professionals, will explain their concerns and the reasons for the Family Group Conference. They will give clear information about the available support, and the strengths within the family.
The family and the child can query any information provided. They can also ask more questions, which will assist them to achieve a robust FGC Plan.
Stage 2 - Private family time
The FGC co-ordinator, and other professionals, leave the meeting room. The family can then discuss the concerns of Children’s Social Care on their own. Together, the family can create a plan to address and resolve the issues raised by reflecting on the information stage.
Stage 3 - Agreeing on the FGC plan
Stage 3 is reached when the family and child are happy and in agreement with their FGC plan. The FGC co-ordinator, and other professionals will then return.
The plan will be discussed to ensure it is robust and meets the needs of the child. The referrer finally agrees the plan if they feel it will deal with the concerns that have been raised.