Family Group Conference Plus
We offer a range of meetings including family group conferences and a number of other interventions which include smaller restorative meetings – all of which are aimed at achieving positive change.
Our nationally accredited Family Group Conference Service has been established for several years and we have recently expanded to build on the work we can offer when working directly with families.
Situations where a request to the Family Group Conference Plus could be made will include the following:
- Where Social Work and Child Protection Services are or/have been involved such as:
- at the point of child in need to prevent further escalation and promote a step-down to early help
- preventing reception into care
- at the point of a pre-birth assessment starting
- where families are already involved in court processes
- prior to consideration of court involvement as promoted in the pre-proceedings checklist
- where there are child protection concerns and it is felt the family would benefit from using our services to achieve the required changes.
Any of the above might routinely include the following issues but there may be others:
- A breakdown in family relationships.
- Issues of contact where the child/ren are significantly affected
- Exploring the wider family and friends network to ensure all the potential strengths of the family are known.
- Improving family members communication for the benefit of their children.
- Sharing accountability for the care and safety needs of children with the wider family group.
Every situation is unique to each family and we will talk with families to discuss what they want to achieve and how they wish to go about achieving this. All our services are ‘opt in’ and families can choose whether or not they want to work with us.
The types of meetings we can offer are:
- Family Group Conference (FGC)
A family led meeting that is held with as many family members as possible to make plans and decisions about a child’s future and how to keep them safe. The family are the primary planning group and have private planning time. Children and Young people are encouraged to attend and supported to do so. Information for referrers can be found here.
What is a family group conference? A guide for families
View these films to help you decide whether a family group conference is right for a child in your family.
- Facilitated meeting
Similar to a Family Group Conference but facilitated by one of our team where the family does not have the same family time. The facilitation could be planned with the family beforehand or be requested by the family on the day.
- Meeting of understanding
Used to help with communication between two ‘parties’ Preparation will take place with each participant beforehand. When both parties are satisfied that they have been heard there is an opportunity to make an agreement about what should happen, Children do not usually attend this type of meeting, the aim is to promote better understanding between parties for the benefit of the child or young person.
- Restorative meeting
Smaller meeting between 2-4 people, preparation will take place beforehand. Used for improving fractured relationships, children do not usually attend this type of meeting, the aim is to resolve issues of conflict for the benefit of the child or young person.
- Family support circle
Offers ideas and solutions about issues. Having heard what the issues are the family members are encouraged to ask ‘Questions of understanding’. Each member is, in turn and then asked for a solution to share. They are thanked for their contribution, three ideas are chosen by the carer who nominates someone to support them in putting their first choice into action.
- Emergency network meeting
A meeting convened with a child’s immediate network of support (family members and professionals) within days of a point of crisis. Urgency means family will have much less choice over date, time, venue etc. out of necessity. The meeting itself may not have all the features of a Family Group Conference. Private family time is not essential though may be offered if felt appropriate. Ideally these meetings are aimed at addressing immediate safety and practical need – one issue – then working towards a full Family Group Conference to make more robust plans with wider support networks
In addition to the meetings we also undertake visits to families to explain the types of meetings on offer and explore if they would want to engage with our services.
Devon is one of the seven local authorities taking part in the exciting pilot Lifelong Links for children in care. For more information about Lifelong Links please view here.
Please contact us directly to discuss any queries, or if you would like to know more, at firstname.lastname@example.org.