Family group conferences
We ensure the wellbeing and care of children and young people by working with the family when they are facing difficult situations or decisions.
A family group conference is a meeting of family members, and sometimes family friends, to make a plan or a decision to resolve issues that affect a child or young person.
Social workers can refer a family for a family group conference where they have concerns about a child's welfare that meet the county council's criteria. A person with parental responsibility (PR) must agree to the referral.
An independent co-ordinator will organise the meeting and support everyone that is involved. They will help with travel arrangements on the day of the meeting where necessary.
We will try to hold the meeting at a time and place convenient for all the family. The place should be private, local and comfortable. The aim is to provide a welcoming and safe environment.
The co-ordinator will plan with the family and the young person who to invite to the conference. Family friends who are important to the young person may also come along.
Other people involved with the family, such as a health visitor, social worker or teacher, may be invited to assist, to share information and offer support. They will only be involved for the first and last parts of the meeting. Private family time in the middle is the most important.
It is a good idea for the child to go to the meeting, but if they are worried, they can have someone at the meeting to support them. This person is called an advocate and will be arranged by the co-ordinator. If the child doesn't want to speak at the meeting, their advocate will speak for them. This person is chosen by the child and could be a friend, family member, teacher or youth worker.
At the meeting the family will:
- Get together with their social worker and other people involved with the family, find out what they think about the situation and what direct help they can offer
- Have private family time, to talk and agree the best plan
- Clarify the plan with the co-ordinator, making sure it meets the needs of the child and is agreed by everyone at the meeting
The co-ordinator will make sure anyone attending receives a written copy of the plan agreed at the family group conference. For the plan to succeed, everyone has to take responsibility for their part.
After the meeting the family will set a date to meet again and see if the plan is working. At this meeting changes can be made to the plan if things are not working or a new plan can be written.
Family Group Conference Service
Children's Social Care Library Buildings
Tel: 01695 651 265