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Family Group Conferencing (FGC)

The process of family group conferences is split into five stages, referral, allocation, Family Group Conference Coordinators, Conference and post conference.

What happens at a referral

At a referral:

  • a social worker and their supervisor consults with group manager and service manager, who is the Family Group Conference link about if a referral is appropriate
  • the social worker will complete a family action FGC referral form
  • the social worker will get a signed ‘consent to share information’ from the parent or carer for the FGC referral document
  • the referral form and the ‘consent to share’ document are sent to fgc.mediation@medway.gov.uk who will pick up the referral and ensure they have family consent and authorisation for the referral from the social worker manager which is passed onto Family Action Medway
  • Family Action will let you know that the referral has been received and tell you if there’s a waiting list within 2 days of receiving the referral

During allocation:

  • The Family Action project manager, staff strengths and holiday schedule of coordinators before allocating. This is often done during weekly team meetings
  • Family Action will tell the referrer that the case has been allocated with the coordinators details. This email is to be sent on the same day as allocation

Family Group Conference Coordinator

The FGC coordinator will contact the referring social worker within 48 hours of allocation and book an appointment to discuss issues and aims for the family to consider at the conference (referred to as the ‘bottom line’). At the meeting, the referrer will be asked to compile a document with the outline of issues raised. This will include items taken from plans made at safeguarding meetings or looked after children reviews. The document is to be presented at the beginning of the FGC.

The coordinator will then ensure the social worker has all the conference information and find out available dates for the conference from the social worker. The conference is to be held 20 days after allocation where possible.

They will then:

  • arrange meetings with the child using the practice guidelines on involving children in FGCs
  • contact family members, friends and other agencies involved to explain the Family Group Conference process and roles
  • get ‘consent’ or ‘withdrawing consent’ from parent or guardian
  • inform the family of the issues and objectives the social worker will raise at the FGC
  • get dates and times when everyone can attend a conference using the social worker’s availability as a guideline. The FGC is to be held 20 days after allocation
  • produce a genogram relating to the child or young person and their family who has been referred.  This must be sent to the child’s allocated social worker on completion and attached with Family Plan.
  • gives out an information pack with postcards for adults and children which includes coordinators name and contact details.
  • Contact participants to confirm their attendance during the seven days before the conference
  • arrange the venue, catering and other services (e.g disabled access, interpreter).
  • tell participants by letter of date, time and venue (including map)
  • arranges advocates for those children or adults who need it
  • set up a meeting between the advocate and the person they will support
  • tell advocates of the conference date
  • carry out a risk assessment of the conference and get parents signature
  • indicate if there are high risks of disruption in the conference the coordinator develops a risk reduction plan based on a the risk assessment
  • share the risk reduction plan with the coordinators supervisor
  • tell participants of the strategies being employed to reduce the risk of disruption during the conference
  • engage a manager or colleague to help implement the risk reduction plan at the conference

What happens at the conference

The coordinator will:

  • carry out a health and safety risk assessment of the venue
  • create a venue risk reduction plan and informs participants of the health safety issues contained in the plan
  • inform the conference about the procedures to follow if the venues fire alarm goes off
  • meet the referrer 30 minutes before the conference to confirm the issues to be raised
  • greets participants, take them to the room, makes drinks and prepares food
  •  conduct the meeting following the procedures outlined in the Family Right’s Group book “Family Group Conference Toolkit”

Agenda for the Family Group Conference

  • Welcome
  • Introductions
  • Ground Rules
  • Public Time where the issues to be addressed are raised
  • Family Time including Children’s issues
  •  Family Plan
  • Farewell & Thank you

What happens after the meeting

After the meeting:

  • all attendees will complete the Family Action feedback
  • when the family has left the coordinator and social worker review the Family Plan
  • the social worker will indicate the level of support and oversight they will be able to have of The Family Plan
  • the social worker gives their initial response to the plan on the ‘Referrers FGC Feedback’ form
  • convenor clears up the venue

Post conference

After the conference:

  • the coordinator writes up Family Plan within 24 hours of the conference
  • the Family Plan will be passed to project manager for approval
  • the coordinator passes Family Plan (once approved) to social worker for comments to be confirmed or added
  • the social worker seeks approval of the Family Plan from their Group Manager
  • the coordinator will amend the Family Plan and sends out the completed plan within 5 days of the conference to all those family members who attended
  • the case will then be closed