Q: Do I have to be there and stay for the family conference?
A: If you made the referral yes, you do need to stay for the entirety of the FGC. Your role in the final stage of the meeting, stage 3, is to make sure the plan meets the safety concerns and agree it where it does. During the preparation period you can discuss with the independent FGC coordinator what you might need to make the most of the time.
If you did not make the referral but have been invited as an agency who holds important information for the family group to understand and consider when making their plan, you can leave at the end of stage 1, Information giving.
Q: Where will it be?
A: The venue is usually chosen by the family often at a community centre of similar to where they live. The independent FGC coordinator will work with the family to consider where they feel comfortable holding the FGC. FGC's should not be held in Children's Services buildings or other statutory buildings that the family may find threatening or intimidating.
Q: What information should I share, what should I say?
A: The FGC coordinator on their first visit to you will explain in detail what would be helpful to include and share with the family. We also supply an information sheet for you to use when considering what information to share. By signing up to the FGC process the family have agreed for relevant information to be shared for the purpose of the FGC. Presentation at the FGC meeting should be focused and in line with the purpose of the referral. The immediate family, ie parent/s should not be hearing 'new news' at the FGC, i.e decisions that have been made in professional meetings the day before for instance.
Q: How long does it take?
A: As an important family led decision making meeting there are no time limits to a FGC. Some families/family members come well prepared with possible solutions, ( they will understand the outline of concerns from the face to face meeting they will have had with the FGC coordinator during the preparation period). The complexity of the referral/family will also have a bearing on the time taken however, all participants are keen to move through the process as quickly as possible. Each FGC meeting takes approximately 3 hours.
Q: Do the children have to be there?
A: Children should be included at the outset. This is a key strength and value of the FGC model - hearing the voice of the child/ren living in the households where there are concerns for their safety or well-being. Those with PR may decide they do not want their children to be present - this is their right, and the child/ren themselves may not want to come to the meeting. However, children can often have a profoundly positive effect on those adults at the meeting. Allowing the meeting to truly remain child focused and so motivating the adults to want to work together. The coordinator will make every attempt to involve the child and to enable them to have their 'voice' heard.
Q: What happens if there is conflict?
A: There is a great deal of preparation throughout the planning of the meeting to ensure that there are no underlying issues which could result in conflict during the FGC. If the family group will not be able to maintain a safe environment due to conflict then they will make recommendations they feel suitable to manage risks - this could involve excluding certain people. Should it arise however then the coordinator will manage the meeting and make sure it is dealt with safely and effectively.
Q: Who arranges an advocate if needed?
A: The FGC coordinator will help vulnerable participants think through if they want/ need a support person. It is then the responsibility of the FGC coordinator, or dependent on council/borough, the social worker makes the referral to the advocacy service. to either prepare an identified support person, such as a teacher , youth worker, or to make a referral to an accessible advocacy service.
Q: If the children attend, how will they be kept safe?
A: This is the priority of any FGC meeting. The coordinator will follow Daybreak's Child Safeguarding policies and guidelines and make sure that not only the children but anyone attending is kept safe during the meeting.
Q: How long before we get the family plan?
A: It will be sent to you within 3-5 working days.
Q: What happens if certain members of the family or maternal or paternal family really don't get on?
A: The FGC coordinator will enable all family members to contribute towards the action plan by whatever method is most appropriate for that individual family's needs.