The broad aim of Family Group Conferencing (FGC) is to ensure the involvement of the family and its networks (friends, neighbours and relatives etc) in the development of solutions to problems which affect a child/young person. In this Local Authority, consideration must be given to the holding of a Family Group Conference in the following circumstances:
- Where there is a risk of serious family breakdown. This includes emergency requests to accommodate a child or young person. Priority will be given to children aged 11-17 who typically do not have good out comes if they enter the care system;
- Following the accommodation of a child and where this happened in emergency circumstances and/or a FGC was originally refused by the parent/carer;
- Where a child remains looked after beyond his/her second Looked After Review and reunification or permanency needs to be explored with the close and wider family;
- Where a young person is on the edge of custody.
2. The Process
Firstly, discuss the case with Team Manager. If she/he agrees:
- Complete the electronic referral form in full. The current form is available from the Commissioning Section. You will need to include the name and contact details of parents/carers agreeing to an FGC but other names and addresses can be identified between the FGC coordinator and parent. Try to be really clear about what the problems are and what the desired outcomes for the child are. You may also include agency members so long as the family agree. In care proceedings it may be helpful for a Children's Guardian to attend the first part of a FGC so long as a person with Parental Responsibility agrees;
- Email your referral to Head of Service, Children's Safeguarding.
The Head of Service will then arrange for your referral to be passed to the Commissioning Team/Access to Resources. When the referral is accepted:
- The referral will be processed through the dynamic purchasing system and a service provider identified within three days. It is important that the worker, or someone who knows the history of the referral, i.e. a manager/supervisor is available to be contacted by the service provider within the next week;
- The provider will ask the worker details about the case which s/he feels are necessary before meeting or contacting families;
- The coordinator will then make initial contact with the family within five working days. During this time they will endeavour to agree with invitees and referrer, a suitable date and venue in order to hold a FGC within 20 days.
The need for a child to have an advocate should be addressed within the referral form with reasons given for why this is thought to be necessary.
Cancellation of conferences is something that we try to avoid. In all cases relating to a proposed cancellation, please discuss with the Head of Service, Integrated Safeguarding.
N.B. A competent young person may wish to invite members to a FGC but in other circumstances, a person with Parental Responsibility needs to give permission for a FGC to go ahead. It can be arranged that an experienced professional will speak to families about the process if they are reluctant to attend an FGC.