Family Group Conferences (FGC) put children, young people and their families at the centre of decision making. When the family is under pressure the group conferences can provide the skilled help they need to sort out their problems.
It is a model of practice that suits Cornwall because it brings the extended family network together to make a plan to solve those problems.
Family group conferences are a good way to help families get to the bottom of their problems. They can help come up with workable solutions to problems affecting the welfare of a child or young person.
How do family group conferences work?
An independent coordinator works with the child or young person and their parents/carers. They identify all the extended family and friends who may be able to get involved and help out. We find that this helps even if there are family conflicts.
The coordinator is independent because they are not involved in making decisions about what happens to children and young people.
The skilled coordinator talks with and prepares everyone who is going to attend the conference. They explain the process and purpose of the FGC. They listen to everyone’s views and explore change in order to achieve positive outcomes for children.
The coordinator involves children and young people. They are offered an advocate to help them express their views and wishes at the conference.
The agenda of the child or young person and family is clearly stated at the start. The person who has made the referral and any other professionals invited to take part share their concerns and the help they can offer the family.
The 'bottom line' for keeping the child happy and safe is explained at this point.
The families then have private family time to come up with a safe, supportive plan for the child or young person. It works best when the child or young person's views and wishes are at the centre of this process and the heart of the family plan.
The family plan is then discussed and agreed between the family and referrer. The coordinator is there to help the family to decide what is realistic. The family plan is the only record of the meeting and the coordinator makes sure that everyone involved gets a copy.
Family monitors are agreed and a date to review the family plan is made.
You can have an FGC when you need the support of an independent coordinator, to help you and your family to come together to make plans, to support you and your children with a range of difficulties.
You will need to be referred to the service by a professional who is working with your family.
If you do not have a professional working with you and you are interested in a self-referral please contact the Early Help Hub for advice.