guide to family group conferencing
how to start the process
We accept referrals from social workers or a team manager, and these sometimes arise after the request of other agencies that may have concerns about a situation. The first step is to reach agreement between family members and Social Services that a plan needs to be made for a child or young person, and that a Family Conference may be an appropriate way of achieving this.
If a case is suitable, we will appoint an independent co-ordinator who will explain the process in more detail. The co-ordinator will then work with the young person and carers to identify the family network, which may include close friends and relatives and, if necessary, an advocate for the child or young person. It is very important that their views are known so that they can, if possible, be taken into account when the plan is agreed.
what happens next?
The co-ordinator meets with relevant professionals to discuss the issues which may need to be considered in the plan, and visits members of the wider family and friends who are important in the life of the child before setting up the joint meeting.
The conference is held at a time, date and place that is convenient for the family. The conference has a clear agenda and has three stages to the meeting;
1. Information giving
This part of the meeting is chaired by the co-ordinator. Information is shared by the social worker and the co-ordinator - including any information received from people who are unable to attend.
2. Private family time
Family members have time for a private discussion in order to come up with a plan that addresses the agreed concerns. This usually takes between 1 and 2 hours and the co-ordinator and the social worker are not usually present.
3. Agreeing the plan
The other parties rejoin the meeting to hear the family’s plan, discuss how it addresses all the concerns, any issue of risk, and a procedure to check whether it is working. The plan will then be agreed by the social worker.
4. Reviewing the plan
A review or follow-up meeting is often arranged to review how the plan is working and to make any necessary adjustments.
what happens to the plan?
All family members and agencies who attend the conference will receive a copy of the plan. It will include details of resources that are to be made available to the family.
what happens if agreement can’t be reached?
If no agreement can be reached, the discussions and contents of the conference cannot be used elsewhere and will not be shared with anyone.
if you decide not to continue
Family conferences are voluntary, and if at any stage one party decides not to continue, the process will be halted.
how much will it cost?
We offer a specialist family conferencing service which forms part of the arrangements to help resolve issues concerning children and young people and their families within Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Derby. When families are referred to our service through social services there is no charge.
Private family conferencing can be provided by contacting Family Group Conferencing at Mediation Works and we can explain our charges on request.