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1.2.4 Family Group Conference Policy

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

A Family Group Conference (FGC) is a family-led decision making and planning process whereby the young person, parents and wider family group make a plan for the child or young person at risk.

It is important that when offering or working with Family Group Conferences, we should always ensure we are providing families with a good standard of service.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was amended throughout in July 2017 to further detail the processes of family involvement and reflect the updated role of the Family Group Conference Co-ordinator role.


Contents

  1. Procedure
  2. Guidance

Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council is committed to valuing diversity by promoting and implementing equality of opportunity in all its activities. The aim of the Council’s policy is to ensure that the Council is an organisation, which recognises and values diversity and intends to be a leading edge example of good practice.


1. Procedure

Principles and Standards

Principle 1 - Families have the right to clear, appropriate information about the family group conference process:
  1. Families must be given clear information about what a family group conference is and why they have been offered a family group conference;
  2. Families must be informed about timescales and possible delays. Timescale is a 6-8 week timeframe;
  3. Information must be available in a way that meets the needs of the family. Clear information is essential for family which is communicated at appropriate level;
  4. All family members must be told who they can contact if they have any questions about the process and how they can make a complaint. Social Worker, coordinator, will provide information regarding Knowsley’s complaints procedure.

Principle 2 - Families have the right to be involved in the planning of the meeting:
  1. Where possible, the plan should reflect the local community and have an understanding of the way religious beliefs, cultural traditions and other lifestyle issues influence how the family operates;

  2. A coordinator who has a level of independence 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;
  3. The FGC will be take place at a time, date negotiated with the family;
  4. The parents will need to consent to information held by social care being shared at the meeting;
  5. The FGC Coordinator will work with the family and, where appropriate, the young person. Pre-work will be completed to negotiate who attends the FGC; Only family and friends identified by the family can attend an FGC;
  6. The social worker 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 and act upon any Safeguarding procedure.

Principle 3 - Family members have the right to be acknowledged as decision-makers in the Family Group Conference process:
  1. The referring Social Worker that referred the family for FGC must be clear about what decisions, if any, they may be able to support and must give reasons for this or give reasons for not supporting this. The Social Worker needs to inform family;

  2. Any family member who requires support will be offered someone to assist them make their contribution throughout the process. This could be someone in the family or outside;
  3. The family must be given relevant, factual and jargon free information about Social Workers concerns and the resources available when initially opening the FGC.

Principle 4 - Families have the right to private family time and a supportive and safe environment to make plans:
  1. Families will be given the opportunity to have private time. The Social Worker and the coordinator will leave the family to discuss the issues raised and identify a safeplan;

  2. Coordinator must ensure that there is a suitable environment and time allocated for the family to make decisions.

Criteria - Any Child

  1. Going through court proceedings;
  2. Child Protection Plan in place.


2. Guidance

Family Group Conferences are identified in revised Children Act Guidance to local authorities on preparing for care proceedings, as being ‘an important opportunity to engage friends and members of the wider family at an early stage of concerns about a child, either to support the parents or to provide care for the child, whether in the short or longer term’.

A FGC should be considered as early as possible, once it meets the criteria - however, court directed requests will take priority.

Once the referral is received via the FGC coordinator, a joint home visit will be arranged with the coordinator and allocated social worker to the family:

  • At this visit it will be explained to the family the process and purpose of the FGC, the concerns and plans of the local authority. Written consent will be gained at this visit in order for local authority to share information regarding concerns to identified family members who will attend. If parents are in agreement with FGC. A date will be provisionally agreed;
  • If parents are in agreement with FGC, a second home visit will be undertaken to identify family members who have been put forward to attend the meeting. and details of names, relationship to the family,addresses and contact numbers will be ascertained. The co-ordinator will then speak to or visit the identified people in preparation for the FGC. The co-ordinator will then book a suitable venue (dependant on the availability of family) and confirmed the date and time of the FGC;
  • It is important that family members, FGC coordinators, and social workers communicate and keep all parties updated on progress;
  • Family Group Conference will take place with the attendance of identified family members, social worker and FGC coordinator and any other individual required in the preparation period with parents/young person;
  • The FGC coordinator will chair the FGC. Social worker will inform meeting of concerns and issues from local authority. This information will be taken from the referral form, which parent(s) will have signed when they agreed to the request for FGC being made;
  • The FGC coordinator and social worker will leave the meeting, giving family members private time to identify safe plan for child/young person;
  • When the family has created their plan, the allocated social worker (referrer) and the coordinator will return to the meeting with the family for family to share their plan. There will be an agreement that social worker will report back to their relevant Team Manager to discuss family’s plan, to agree if the plan is a safe one.

The plan will be recorded on relevant documentation by the co-ordinator and entered onto ICS.

As Part of Process - Roles and Responsibilities of Professionals

Family Senior Support Worker:

  1. Accept referral/action/allocate to FGC Coordinator;
  2. FGC Coordinator;
  3. FGC Coordinator to arrange joint visit with social worker to gain consent and inform family of the FGC process and set date of meeting;
  4. Arrange a further visits to complete preparation work with family for FGC;
  5. Chair FGC.

Social Worker:

  1. Referral form to be completed on form tab in ICS;
  2. Email Family Group Conference site to inform of referral with child’s ID number;
  3. To undertake a joint home visit with FGC coordinator to explain issues and concerns and the process of FGC - to ensure family are aware of the bottom line if a Safe Plan cannot be achieved by the family;
  4. Social worker to communicate with FGC coordinator and support worker to keep them updated on progress;
  5. Social worker will attend Family Group Conference to give information of issues and concerns which family need to address;
  6. If family have identified a Safe Plan, social worker will take the plan to their Manager to be discussed;
  7. Social worker to feed back to FGC coordinator outcome of family plan;
  8. Family need to be informed if the plan has been accepted or rejected by Social Worker;
  9. It will be the responsibility of the social worker to gather the wishes and feelings of the child/young person and feed this back to the co-ordinator and share within the FGC.

End