Edge of Care Family Group Conferencing Service

A referral for a family group conference should be considered when: 

  • A child is at risk of becoming looked after by the Local Authority or to avoid care proceedings
  • A child is looked after and there is a plan for reunification home to the family unit 
  • Children are subject to a Child in Need or Child Protection plan or threshold is changing
  • A Child Arrangement Order or Special Guardianship Order is being considered and options for permanency need to be identified
  • There is a negative outcome following a pre-birth assessment and concerns need to be addressed
  • Support is required for 16/17 year olds who are at risk of homelessness or returning from custody.
  • Following social work intervention the family may have wider issues and complicating factors that they wish to be supported to work through.

Family Group Conference Referral Pathways Guidance

A Family Group Conference gives families experiencing difficulties the opportunity to get together to make decisions and plan for a child or young person’s future well-being and safety. It supports families to use their strengths, skills, family knowledge and resources to offer their own solutions to the concerns identified.  FGCs are a family led, decision making and planning process that gives children a voice and puts the family in control taking into account any child welfare concerns identified. FGCs can prevent children becoming looked after by the Local Authority, and can help to support children looked after to return to their family unit.   The meetings include private family time and child involvement to ensure that children/young people have a voice and that their feelings and wishes are listened to.

Family Group Conferences are based on the principle of working in partnership. The decision makers at Family Group Conferences are the family members and not the professionals

  • 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;
  • Children should be given a voice and the opportunity to participate in the decision making process.

Family Group Conference Referral Pathways Guidance

  • Participation in FGCs is voluntary
  • The referrer has identified that an FGC is a viable option having discussed it with and had agreement from the person with parental responsibility to engage in the process. This may be done as part of a PLO agreement but ideally would be completed before to divert from the need for PLO.
  • The referrer has allowed sufficient time for the preparation stage between FGC coordinator and family members; this is key to the success of the family meeting, and whilst the FGC process is flexible, it usually takes between 4-6 weeks from allocation to FGC. 
  • The referrer is clear on what cannot be considered as part of the plan.
  • The conference is part of a social work intervention and forms part of the assessment; it is not family mediation.
  • The FGC coordinator will prepare the family network and will organise and facilitate the family group conference to help the family to develop their plan to support the children and keep them safe.
  • The referrer is required to attend the FGC and FGC Review and will agree/or not agree the plan at the conference. A family member is appointed to monitor the plan.
  • A review date, is offered and agreed at conference, to monitor progress, address ongoing concerns and to celebrate achievements

Family Group Conference Referral Pathways Guidance

Joanne.Turnbull@cumbria.gov.uk (07771 374810) FGC Co-ordinator North

Zoe.Hartley@cumbria.gov.uk (07795 814967) FGC Co-ordinator South

Denise.Kinnoch@cumbria.gov.uk (07554 333339) FGC Co-ordinator North & West

Nadia.Scott@cumbria.gov.uk (07789 270740) FGC Co-ordinator West

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