Wirral has a fully accredited team of Family Group Co-ordinators who adhere to the Family Group Conference Practice Standards and work to the pure Family Group Conferencing Model. Family Group Conferences enable children who are at risk of becoming Looked After to remain with their families. They are also used in situations where there are concerns about possible harm to a child / young person. Family Group Conferences may also be used to rehabilitate children back to their family's care. All Family Group Conferences will consist of Information Giving Time, Private Family Time and Agreeing the Plan.
The aim of a Family Group Conference is to ensure that a child/ young person will live in a safe situation and be allowed to develop as an individual by:
There is a set of agreed principles, which underpin the Family Group Conference Process. The Children Act 1989 strongly reflects these principles and provides the drive for using these meetings in practice. These principles are:
The Family Group Conference Co-ordinator is independent of any agency involved with the family, for example in terms of family support or child protection case management.
The Family Group Conference should respect the family's consent to proceed. Participation in a Family Group Conference is a voluntary process for the child, young person, or vulnerable adult and the family members involved. How the process is managed should respect the rights of family members to consent or not.
The Family Group Conference should be family led and include 'private time' for the family to make a plan in response to concerns. Private time for the family is an essential part of the Family Group Conference process.
The central focus should be on the child or adult who is the subject of the Family Group Conference. They should be offered support in their involvement including be offered an advocate. Children, young people and vulnerable adults are at the centre of the decision making process and have the right for their voices to be heard and to be supported in achieving this.
The Family Group Conference service should ensure that the family has all the necessary resources to help them to fully participate in the meeting, including adequate preparation time, relevant information, and a safe and appropriate environment to make its plan.
The Family Group Conference should respect the family's privacy and right to confidentiality (unless there is new disclosure that a child or adult is at significant risk).
The Family Group Conference should recognise that each family is unique and should be sensitive to the family's culture taking account of ethnicity, language and religion. The process of the Family Group Conference should reflect and respect the culture and specific needs and circumstances of the family and be driven by them.
If after completing the single assessment the Social Worker feels that a Family Group Conference is required they should contact the Family Group Conference Team for an informal discussion or complete a referral, contained within LiquidLogic to request a service.
Once the Family Group Conference Manager receives the referral form from the Social Worker they will decide if it meets the criteria for a service.
Once the referral is agreed the Family Group Conference Manager will allocate a Family Group Co-ordinator to work with the family and email the referrer to inform them of the outcome
The allocated Family Group Co-ordinator will arrange a consultation meeting with the Social Worker. The meeting will look to clarify the preparation time required for the meeting with the family, the date and time of meeting (which has to be within 6 weeks) and the expectations of all parties involved.
An Agenda for the meeting will be prepared by the referring Social Worker and the Family Group Co-ordinator.
The Family Group Co-ordinator will contact the main carer and the extended family members they wish to attend the meeting and confirm the time, date and venue of the meeting.Once the plan has been agreed by the Social Worker and their Manager, the family will work together to activate the plan. A review of the plan will be done within six weeks if deemed necessary by the family or Local Authority.