Family Group Conferences (FGC)

FGC supports social work practice to work with, and not against, families. The Children Act 1989, made consideration of FGC a central part of practice when welfare decisions about children are being made.
Shropshire is a restorative practice authority and using FGCs or family meetings shows real belief in the idea that families know more about their situation than professionals and can often make better decisions and plans for their children when supported to do so. The aim of the conference is to support families in doing this.

The child’s voice

The child is at the centre of an FGC or family meeting and their voice should be heard.

Things to consider before a referral is made

  • Who’s decision is it to have an FGC or family meeting?

  • Have the family agreed to an FGC or a family meeting?

  • The child and family need to be at the centre of the meeting and have some family and friends who can support them

Co-ordinator's role

  • The FGC coordinator will need to meet with the child/children's social worker before contacting the family to discuss the referral and plan some possible dates for the FGC or family meeting

  • The co-ordinator will make contact with the family to discuss the referral and who the family would like to attend the FGC or family meeting

  • We will discuss any family concerns

  • We will plan the meeting with the family and visit or speak to everyone attending

  • We will book the venue, food and send out invites and the agenda

  • After the FGC, we will write up the plan, send it to all FGC members and plan the review with the family and social worker. A family plan should be posted out within 48 hours of the FGC

  • A family meeting is different because a professional will stay in the room to guide family through the questions and allow them to decision make

Referrer's role

  • No surprises for the family during the meeting. If there's new information or anything contentious, try to ensure the family are aware of this before the meeting

  • Give relevant information and a brief synopsis – avoid jargon

  • Be clear and open and be prepared to answer questions from the family

  • Be prepared to stay for the whole meeting, so allow sufficient time

  • Give immediate feedback to the plan. Approve what is safe to do so for the children and family

  • Do not direct the plan. Remember that this is the family’s meeting

  • Be prepared for criticism and be open about things that have gone wrong in the past 

  • For an FGC - if you need to check out a request with a manager, come back to the coordinator as soon as possible that day so the plan can be agreed with the family

The 3 stages of the FGC

Information sharing - where the lead professional will talk to the family about the concerns the local authority has. The family can ask questions / get more information about the situation and options available.

Private family time - The family is left on their own to discuss the issues and write up their plan. A family meeting is different as everyone attends this part of the meeting.

Agreeing the plan - The referrer/allocated social worker and coordinator come back together to view the plan and ensure it's clear to everyone. The referrer/local authority will then agree the plan or give the family more time to resolve any questions. All parties must agree the plan is safe before it can be implemented. The social worker will make sure everyone involved has a copy of the plan as soon as possible.

More information about FGCs, the Family Rights Group has produced these helpful YouTube videos:

Family group conference gives families their voice

Family group conference from a child's perspective

Family group conference from a parent’s perspective