Family Group Conference
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Family Group Conference

What is a Family Group Conference?

Family Group Conferences (FGC’s) are voluntary decision making meetings to help families find their own solutions to problems. These are sometimes referred to as family meetings.

The FGC process empowers a family and their network to draw on their strengths and resources to make a safe plan for their children. FGC’s ensure the family network have a chance to hear and discuss the concerns. They also give an opportunity for everyone to be listened to including the child and young person(s). It can be an opportunity to be informed of any resources that could help them improve family life. You can find out more about how FGCs came about on the Family Rights Group website.

“The wide use of Family Group Conferences has led to an increase in children who are placed within their extended family, including the use of kinship carers, supervision orders and special guardianship orders.” (from page 29 of the 2015 Ofsted report).


What can I expect in a family group conference?

Every family considering having a FGC is given an independent FGC Coordinator who helps the family discuss the concerns and prepare for their meeting.

The FGC process is family led and families get to choose:

  • the venue of the meeting
  • time of the meeting (including evening and weekends if it suits the family)
  • food at the meeting
  • who is invited to the meeting

The family network can include anyone important to family members, not just blood relations. The allocated social worker or key worker for the family will need to be at the FGC to provide information about the concerns. Families are able to invite any other professionals they think would be helpful, but attendance by other professionals is not required. The decisions made at a FGC are agreed by the local authority, as long as they are safe for any children involved.

Family Group Conferences happen in three parts:

1. Information sharing - where the lead professional will talk to the family about the concerns the local authority has. The family can ask questions/get more information about the situation and options available.

2. Private family time - The family is left on their own to discuss the issues and write up their plan. Examples of family plans are available from the Documents section of this page.

3. Agreeing the plan - The whole group gets back together to view the plan, ensure it is clear to everyone at the meeting and anyone who may not be, and gain agreement from the referrer/local authority.

The young people in our Bright Sparx young service user group wanted to share their experience having a FGC. They made the video on this page themselves to explain how FGCs works in their own words.


Family Group Conferences in Leeds

Leeds has three FGC teams that work in different areas of the city. There is a fourth ‘Innovations’ team that is working with families around domestic violence. In the first 6 months of 2015-16 we have held 277 FGCs in order to meet the needs of 306 children in Leeds. The numbers of looked after children in Leeds has decreased from 1443 in 2010, to 1235 in March 2016.


CONTACT US

E mail: FGCWebcontacts@Leeds.gov.uk

South FGC Team: 0113 3784159

East/Northeast FGC Team: 0113 3784899

West/Northwest FGC Team: 0113 3782474

Innovations FGC Team: 0113 2774102 ​​​​​​​​​​

Click to expandHow can a Family Group Conference help my family?

A FGC can be helpful in any situation where a decision needs to be made about a child or young person.  Every family experiences change and problems differently and all families have difficulties some times.  These difficulties can include divorce/separation, mental illness, substance misuse, parenting, conflict, domestic abuse, education, poverty, physical illness or homelessness just to name a few.

We feel that families are best placed to come up with solutions about their lives. A FGC can help any family to deal with the problems they are facing and create solutions together.  In the FGC process the family takes the lead in the discussion and chooses solutions that work for them.​​​​​​​

Click to expandWhat makes a Family Group Conference different?

​​

The FGC process is different because it is family led. This means that the family gets to choose when and where the meeting will take place and who is invited. It is also different because children are considered vital to the process and their input is included in the discussion and decision making. Food is an important part of the FGC so that everyone attending can relax and take the time needed to make the family plan.

The FGC Coordinator will support the family with the venue and food, they will send out the invitations and provide any other materials needed for the meeting.

There is no set length of time for the FGC to take, families are able to take all the time they need and are not rushed to finish. ​​

Click to expandDo I have to pay for the Family Group Conference?

​​

No. The FGC will not cost you anything. If you need help with making your FGC come together please talk to your Coordinator.​

Click to expandHow can I request a Family Group Conference?

If you would like to have a FGC for your family please ask your social worker or lead worker. If your family does not have a social worker and you don’t know who might be the lead worker you can ask any professional working with your family if a FGC can be made available for your family. If you would like to get in touch with one of the FGC teams you can find the relevant contact information on this page.

Click to expandDo I have to have a Family Group Conference?

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No. A FGC is voluntary. One of the core values of this approach is that families make a plan for themselves rather than having a plan made for them. It is important that families take ownership of the FGC process including the decision to not have one if it does not suit their needs.​​

Click to expandHow will my family’s needs be considered?

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The FGC Coordinators are specifically trained to work with families and to understand each family’s unique needs. One of the core values of FGC is that families are the experts in themselves, this means the coordinator will learn about you and what you need by talking with you. The FGC coordinator will consider the individual needs of families including: religion, culture, ability and any other considerations the family puts forward such as any dietary needs.​

Click to expandIs someone available to help me say what I need to say?

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Yes. If you need it we will help you have support whether that is informal (like a family friend) or in a more formal way (like an advocate) to help you express your views, wishes and feelings about the content of the FGC and about what you want to have in your family’s plan.​

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