A family group conference (FGC) is a free and independent meeting for families in need of support. FGCs are often used when a child might be taken into care, to get family members to make a plan to allow the child to stay with them safely.
The aim is to empower children and their families in a separate setting from decision-making on their case.
FGCs can cover a wide and complex range of issues including:
- children entering or leaving care
- child abuse
- child protection plans
- public law outline (PLO) meetings
- young fathers
You can read more about the structure of an FGC below.
How to arrange an FGC
If you’re a practitioner working with families in Croydon, you can make a service request to the FGC team on CRS.
When we receive a referral, we aim to organise an FGC within 28 days.
If you’re a Croydon resident and you think your family could benefit from an FGC, speak to your social worker or education welfare officer or any of the professionals that may be involved with your family to make a referral.
Who takes part in an FGC
The FGC is run by an independent coordinator who is not involved in decisions that affect the family. The coordinator helps the family plan and prepare for the meeting, and during the meeting they make sure everything runs smoothly.
The coordinator works with the family to decide which family members and friends should be invited to attend the FGC.
Professionals working with the family, such as social workers, meet the family at the start of the FGC. They also join afterwards to hear the family’s plan.
Advocates can take part to represent and support young people in the meeting. An advocate may be an independent professional or someone the young person knows, like a teacher. Adults can also choose be represented by advocates.
What happens at an FGC
FGCs are held in a comfortable setting, often with food. They have 3 parts:
A professional who works closely with the family will explain:
- why the meeting is happening
- what help is available to the family
- what decisions the family needs to make and what they should discuss
There will be lots of chances to ask questions.
The coordinator and other support workers will leave, and the family group will talk privately. They have to:
- develop a plan that addresses the concerns
- make a back-up plan
- identify the support and resources they need
- identify a family member to be in charge of monitoring progress
Explaining and agreeing
The family explains their plan to their coordinator and social workers. Usually they agree to follow it, as long as it’s safe for children and family members.
If the plan asks for extra support or resources this might have to be approved by managers first.
After the FGC
Families can choose to have a review 6 weeks after the FGC to check on their progress.
We gather feedback from social workers and families who have taken part in an FGC. Over 90% of participants have rated Croydon's FGCs 'good' or 'excellent'.
- “[The coordinator] presents as a highly professional individual… friendly in approach… [They] helped me to narrow down the questions… an absolute pleasure to work with…”
- "Made me feel so blessed."
- "Family group conferences are really helpful and important.”