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CoventryChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Family Group Conference Service

This procedure should be read in conjunction with the Family and Friends Care Policy.


  1. Definition
  2. Principles
  3. Referrals
    1. When to Refer
    2. Criteria
    3. Process 
  4. Summary of Roles and Responsibilities

1. Definition

What is a Family Group Conference?

A Family Group Conference (FGC) is a process in which families can be enabled to meet together, to find solutions to problems that they and their children are facing, within a professionally supportive framework. The FGC process involves all family members, friends and other adults who the family feel can contribute to making plans for the children.

2. Principles

FGC's are based on the principle of working in partnership. This entails a shift of power from professionals to families:

  • Families have more knowledge about themselves than professionals, which can lead them to make better decisions;
  • Families are able to make good decisions about their children, provided they are given the opportunity and information to do so;
  • Family difficulties can be resolved by involving friends and extended family;
  • Families have the strongest potential and motivation to care for their own children;
  • Families provide identity and continuity for their children's future;
  • Families can make culturally sensitive plans;
  • Children are generally best looked after by their own families.

3. Referrals

3.1 When to Refer

Referrals may come from any Agency working with Children and Families, including:

  • Social Care;
  • Education;
  • Health;
  • Youth Offending Service.

Family Group Conferencing will be considered where a Common Assessment Framework (CAF) has identified a child with complex needs who will have poor life chances if services are not co-ordinated.

Where there is any suspicion that a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm the concerns must firstly be referred to the Children's Social Care Service.

3.2 Criteria

Referral for a Family Group Conference will require:

  • The existence of a network of "family" members. (This may include relatives, significant family, friends or community members);
  • The need for a plan to be made to address specific concerns identified in assessment;
  • The commitment of the family to find a solution to the concerns identified.

Family Circumstances that will require special consideration will include:

  • Where a family has a history of intergeneration, sexual abuse;
  • Where there is an on-going Section 47 child protection enquiry;
  • Where there is high risk of violence at the conference;
  • Where the ability of the main care giver to make a decision is severely impaired due to a learning disability or their mental health.

3.3 Process

Each Conference will have an independent co-ordinator who will meet with both the young person and the family before the conference and answer any questions that they may have. (S)he will also discuss with the family who they want to attend, and agree where the meeting is held.

At the heart of the idea of a Family Group Conference is the young person(s) or child. It is important that (s)he is listened to and his/her views and ideas are given value by everyone that attends.

The Co-ordinator will talk to the young person or child about how they would like to contribute to the meeting whether (s)he would like an advocate to attend to assist him/her to put forward views. The young person may also choose to contribute by other means if (s)he feels unable to attend the conference.

The Meeting will be made up of three parts:

1. Information Sharing

The referrer and agencies explain to everyone what their concerns are and why, giving clear information regarding their available support.

2. Private family time

The family are left alone to discuss the situation and put together a plan to address and resolve the concerns.

3. Agreeing the plan

When the family are ready, the other members of the conference will rejoin them so that the family can explain their plan and the referrer can say if they feel the plan appropriately covers the concerns that have been raised. You may be asked to offer support and resources and provide any suitable signposting to support services.

On completion of the conference a review date may be agreed to consider the effectiveness of the plan.

4. Summary of Roles and Responsibilities

The Role of the Family:

  • Attend Family Group Conference;
  • Develop a Workable Plan;
  • Write up the Plan;
  • Carry out and Monitor the Plan.

The Role of the Co-ordinator:

  • Explore the wider Family Network;
  • Meet with the young person to plan their participation;
  • Convene the meeting;
  • Encourage and support attendance at the meeting;
  • Chair the information giving stage;
  • Help clarify the plan;
  • Enable the family to feedback the plan;
  • Ensure review arrangements are made;
  • Ensure that the plan is communicated to the relevant manager within the agreed timescale.

The Role of the Referrer:

  • Refer to Family Group Conferencing;
  • Attend the Family Group Conference to endorse the Family Plan;
  • Provide clear information about concerns;
  • Provide information about resources;
  • Consider the plan developed by the family and monitor/review arrangements;
  • Support the family to carry out the plan.

The Role of Other Professional:

  • Attend the initial part of the Family Group Conference;
  • Provide information about their services;
  • Implement their part of the plan;
  • Be part of the monitoring arrangements.

The Role of the Relevant Manager:

  • Agree and support the referral;
  • Assist the referrer to make a clear agenda from the agency;
  • Ensure the referrer is clear about resources;
  • Agree/Validate the plan within the agreed timescale;
  • Ensure implementation and monitoring is appropriate;
  • Liaise with other relevant managers if necessary to address resource issues;
  • Ensure lines of accountability.