In 2015 Daybreak successfully applied for support from the Department for Education’s Innovation Fund for a pioneering project to offer a family group conference (FGC) to families that had been sent a pre-proceedings letter. Such a letter is sent by a local authority when it is concerned about a child’s welfare and is considering court action.
The DfE commissioned an independent evaluation of the project. It found important differences 3-12 months after the FGCs between the group of families that participated in the project and a control group that did not.1
There was a high level of satisfaction with the process amongst family members; more children were still living with their families; and the reduction in the number of children taken into care resulted in massive savings to the public purse. The participating families continued to benefit from the FGC.2 A later follow-up report on where the children were 3½ years on from the Innovation programme, commissioned by the Department for Education, found that ‘71% of FGC children lived with their family, compared to 43% of non-FGC children’.
Of the 57 projects that received Innovation Fund support, Daybreak’s was one of only three selected in 2019 to be part of the Supporting Families: Investing in Practice programme.3 This aimed to scale up those projects with promising evidence of impact. Daybreak was commissioned to manage the roll-out of FGCs to more than 20 local authorities across England.
In most areas, we have supported local authorities by providing technical assistance with the planning and implementation of this targeted FGC use. In some cases, Daybreak has instead been contracted to deliver that service itself on behalf of the council.
In all these areas, social workers and families now have an additional opportunity to find ways to keep children safe with their family and out of the care system.
1 Munro, E R, Meetoo, V, Quy, K & Simon A. (2017) Daybreak Family Group Conferencing: children on the edge of care. Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme Evaluation, report 54. Department for Education. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/625372/Daybreak_Family_Group_Conferencing.pdf [Accessed 17 January 2022].
2 Lawrence H, Ludvigsen A, Taylor S & Lovbakke J (2020) Family Group Conferences in pre-proceedings. Evaluation report. Department for Education. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/933117/Longitudinal_-_Daybreak_FGCs.pdf [Accessed 17 January 2022].
3 Supporting Families: Investing in Practice programme. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/15-million-investment-to-help-keep-families-safely-together. [Accessed 17 January 2022].