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3.8 Family Group Conferences FGCS

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

Family Group Conferences are available in Hertfordshire via the Family Group Conference Service.This chapter should be read in conjunction with the Appendix Practice Standards for Family Group Conferences.

AMENDMENT

Some bullet point criteria in Section 4, Referral Criteria and Section 5, Fitting the FGC Service around Child Protection Meetings was removed in September 2015.


Contents

  1. What is a Family Group Conference?
  2. Why should I Refer?
  3. Who can refer to the Hertfordshire (Children & Families) Family Group Conference Service?
  4. Referral Criteria
  5. Fitting the FGC Service around Child Protection Meetings


1. What is a Family Group Conference?

FGC's recognise the rights and responsibilities of families and communities to make decisions about their children and they provide a framework for families to exercise this responsibility. It is a means by which the Local Authority (LA) and a family can work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people.

At the FGC it is the family who make the plan to meet the needs of the child/young person, after first being told what concerns and issues a plan will need to address, what resources are available and what will happen if the current situation does not change. The role of the LA is to support the family's plan, where possible, unless it continues to place a child at an increased likelihood of suffering significant harm.

FGC's recognise strengths within the family and it is a method of maximising the resources within that family. In maximising resources within the family, FGC's bring benefits to a child/young person who has the right to be cared for within the family environment where possible. For the Local Authority, there are obvious financial benefits in terms of the long term savings made in relation to resources saved.


2. Why should I Refer?

FGC's have been proven, through research, to help produce better outcomes for children and young people by keeping them within their family or community.

The meetings are based on the belief that families can usually find their own solutions to their difficulties and that children and young people have a right to have their families involved in their future planning.

Feedback from children and young people and extended family members who have attended FGC's has shown that they find them a far better way of getting their wishes and feelings heard.


3. Who can refer to the Hertfordshire (Children & Families) Family Group Conference Service?

A Social Worker / Professional Assistant is the only person who may refer at the moment, but Health Visitors, Teachers, Education Welfare Officers and other Professionals can consult with a Social Worker who will then consider making the referral.


4. Referral Criteria

  • A child or young person in need has unmet needs which may result in them becoming Looked After; and/or
  • There is a real chance that a meeting could assist in the child leaving care to return to the care of their family or friends;
  • There is a chance that the meeting could prevent a child suffering significant harm;
  • The meeting will help the extended family contribute to the child in need or CP plan;
  • The meeting will assist the care plan in legal proceedings;
  • In order for a Family Group Conference to be viable there needs to be willingness for family members to meet each other in a room at the same time. This will need to be confirmed by the Social Worker with the family members.


5. Fitting the FGC Service around Child Protection Meetings

Where a recommendation for an FGC is made at a Child Protection Conference the following procedures apply:

  • The recommendation to offer a family an FGC is written into the outline Child Protection Plan for the Core Group to consider;
  • The child's Social Worker approaches the family to ascertain whether they wish to access the FGC Service. This should happen at the initial Core Group Meeting if the recommendation is from an Initial Child Protection Conference or at the next meeting of the Core Group if the recommendation is from a Review Conference. In any event this should happen within two weeks of the recommendation being made;
  • The family's plan will be taken back to the next Core Group meeting for endorsement, and for integrating in to the child's/young person's Protection Plan;
  • In the event of a review FGC being held, the process continues to link in with the Core Group and where review plans are developed, the Core Group needs to endorse the revised FGC plan, and integrate into the child's/young person's Protection Plan.

If a family refuse the FGC Service, the Core Group should develop the Child Protection plan as usual and the child's Social Worker report this back to the next Child Protection Conference.

End