Family Group Conferences – family decision-making

A Family Group Conference (FGC) brings together a child’s close family and family friends when things are difficult. It’s a way to come up with a plan for the child’s future that will make life easier for everyone.     

1. Holding an FGC

We know you are able to make the best decisions for your own children, but when things get tough you could need some extra support to make a plan for your family’s future.

An FGC is an independent meeting that is organised on your behalf with the people closest to you who can help.

Examples of FGCs

There are many occasions when FGCs can be organised including:

  • where a family needs to discuss support so they can continue to care for their children where a child and their family has special needs
  • when a parent is ill or dying
  • before or after a child is made subject to a ‘child protection plan’
  • when the council is considering or have recommended taking a child into care or accommodating them
  • when a young person is involved in anti-social behaviour, or offending in the community or at home
  • when a child is struggling with school attendance and behaviour at school, and is facing exclusion

2. Participant at an FGC

The best people to help a child or young person are nearly always their own relatives and loved ones.

The term ‘family’ can also include friends or family who are not related to the child or young person but are heavily involved in their lives.

3. Going to an FGC

If you are invited to an FGC it is important you try your best to go as you may have good ideas or advice to contribute to decision-making.

If you are worried about speaking at the meeting, the co-ordinator will help you with this and find the best ways on how to present your views.

For family members who can't attend, the FGC co-ordinator will meet or talk to them before the FGC so that their views can contribute to the decision-making at the FGC.

4. Organising an FGC

The meeting is organised by a qualified FGC co-ordinator. The FGC co-ordinator is also fully independent, meaning they are not involved with the family and do not have responsibility for decision-making. Their job is to make sure that the meeting runs as smoothly as possible.

5. The FGC schedule

There are three parts to an FGC. Throughout the meeting, the FGC co-ordinator will always be available to help sort out any problems or disagreements.

The schedule of an FGC
Part 1 - information giving This is the part of the meeting where you get all the information you need to make a plan. The workers most closely involved with your family will explain why they are worried about your child and let you know about the sort of help available to you. There will be lots of chances to ask them questions.
Part 2 - private family time At this point the FGC co-ordinator will leave your group so that you can discuss all the information you have been given and work out a plan. This is also a chance for you to discuss responsibilities and whether you will need any support with your plan and future.
Part 3 - agreeing the FGC plan The plan will then be shared with everyone who was part of the meeting. The plan is usually agreed as long as what it says is needed and is in the best interests of everyone in the family.

6. Planning for an FGC

The FGC co-ordinator will talk to the child and close family members about who is to be invited to the meeting and will choose a time and place that, as far as possible, suits everyone. It will be somewhere comfortable and on neutral ground.

The co-ordinator will help the family agree who should be invited and will encourage as many family members as possible to attend as this will help the family group make an effective plan. The co-ordinator will help resolve issues if there is disagreement about who should attend, and can exclude someone, but this is rarely necessary. 

The FGC works on a ‘no blame’ approach and future focus encouraging the parent to achieve positive change by engaging the extended family for the benefit of the child and young person.

7. Confidentiality

All FGCs are fully confidential, and we will not mention what is discussed with anyone else unless you ask us to help or we feel that there is a risk to the children involved. 

8. More information

Contact details

You can also speak to your child’s allocated social worker.

Read more about FGCs on the Family Rights Group website.

Read more about our family group conferences

Last updated: 24 November 2016
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