FGC Information for Professionals
Brief history of the Family Group Conference (FGC) concept
Family group conferences draw upon Maori culture and their development was a response to the large number of Maori children being removed in to state institutions. Family group conferences are now recognised in law in New Zealand as being the key process by which families make informed and responsible decisions, recommendations and plans for their children and young people.
Family group conferences are now used, mainly in child welfare, in over 20 countries throughout the world including the UK.
What is a Family Group Conference?
We all form part of a family and each family is different, with its own history, dynamics and personality. Every family comes up against problems from time to time. FGCs are a way of giving families the chance to get together to try and make the best plan possible for the young people within it.
The decision makers at a family group conference are members of the family, and not the professionals. So parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins and even friends are all involved in resolving a situation.
FGCs can be used effectively:
The service is available to families in North Somerset:
How to request an FGC
If you are working with a family who meet the criteria and you feel they would benefit from a Family Group Conference you will need to complete a Referral Request Form. You will also need signed consent from the family.
You can also discuss potential referrals with the FGC Project Lead.
If the FGC is agreed, a Coordinator will be assigned to the case.
How is an FGC arranged?
An FGC coordinator will discuss the case with you. The coordinator will then visit the family to explain in detail how the FGC works and makes arrangements with them as to when and where the meeting will take place.
Because it’s important to get as many family members in attendance, it can take several weeks before the meeting happens. The coordinator may decide to exclude individual family members from the meeting if there are concerns that their presence would be a risk to anyone’s safety.
Families have the right to be involved in the planning of the meeting. The family must be in agreement with being put forward for an FGC and must consent to a referral.
The coordinator (who is not a social worker) is independent and will work with the family to arrange the family group conference. ‘Independent’ means that they have not and will not be involved in making any decisions about the child.
The day of the meeting
All parties will arrive and the meeting generally takes the following format:
a) Information giving
This is where staff from agencies and you as the SW give the family the information you have about the young person and about services, resources and support that may be available. This part of the meeting is chaired by the FGC coordinator.
b) Private family time
All professionals and the coordinator are not present during this part. The family members have time to talk amongst themselves and come up with a plan that addresses the concerns raised by the staff in Part a).
c) Agreeing the plan
The coordinator and professionals re-join the meeting to hear the family’s plan.
Any services or support needed to make the plan work are discussed. The plan should be agreed by the professionals unless it places the young person at risk of significant harm. Everybody decides how they will check if the plan is working and what they will do if it is not.
The coordinator will type up the plan and makes sure everybody gets a copy.
d) Reviewing the plan
An FGC review meeting is often arranged to see how the plan is working and make new plans if necessary. This usually happens 3 months after the original meeting.
A Family Group Conference is a useful tool but is not necessarily going to be the solution for all families. As with other meetings, decisions and plans will often need to be changed or adapted depending on the evolving needs of the family.
If all parties are flexible an FGC can change lives for the better and there are thousands of families across the world that are testament to this.
If you would like to speak to someone, please contact:
FGC Project Lead
All referrals to be sent securely to:
Click here to download our FGC leaflet for Professionals.
Click here to download a Referral Request Form.