Our nationally accredited Family Group Conference Plus service offers families the opportunity to be supported to find their own solutions.
We offer a range of meetings from family group conferences to smaller restorative meetings, all of which are aimed at achieving positive changes to improve the lives of children and young people.
Families discuss and choose what type of meeting would be best for them and what they want to achieve.
What sort of meetings are on offer?
Family Group Conference
A family led meeting that is held with as many family members as possible to make plans and decisions about a child’s future and how to keep them safe. The family are the primary planning group and have private planning time. Children and young people are encouraged to attend and supported to do so.
Family Rights Group have produced some films to help you understand what a family group conference is and think about whether a is right for a child in your family.
Similar to a Family Group Conference but facilitated by one of our team. The facilitation could be planned with the family beforehand or be requested by the family on the day.
Meeting of understanding
Used to help with communication between two ‘parties’. Preparation will take place with each participant beforehand. When both parties are satisfied that they have been heard there is an opportunity to make an agreement about what should happen. Children do not usually attend this type of meeting, the aim is to promote better understanding between adults within a family for the benefit of the child or young person.
Smaller meeting between 2-4 people used for improving fractured relationships. Preparation will take place beforehand. Children do not usually attend this type of meeting, the aim is to resolve issues of conflict for the benefit of the child or young person.
Family support circle
Offers ideas and solutions about issues. Having heard what the issues are, the family members are encouraged to ask ‘questions of understanding’. Each member is then asked for a solution to share and thanked for their contribution. Three ideas are chosen by the carer who nominates someone to support them in putting their first choice into action.
Emergency network meeting
A meeting convened with a child’s immediate network of support (family members and professionals) within days of a point of crisis. Urgency means family will have much less choice over date, time, venue etc. out of necessity. The meeting itself may not have all the features of a Family Group Conference. Private family time is not essential though may be offered if felt appropriate. Ideally these meetings are aimed at addressing an immediate safety and practical need, then working towards a full Family Group Conference to make more robust plans with wider support networks.
Why choose Family Group Conference Plus?
The reason for choosing Family Group Conference Plus will depend on what changes need to be made to improve a situation and what plans are needed to achieve this.
Family Group Conference Plus offers families the opportunity to positively contribute to making these plans.
Every situation is unique to each family and we will talk with families to discuss what they want to achieve and how they want to go about doing it.
All our services are ‘opt in’ and families can choose whether or not they want to work with us and be involved. However, if they choose not to then others outside of the family will have to make the plan to improve the situation for the child/ young person.
Requests to Family Group Conference Plus are often made for families where social services are already involved and could be to prevent further escalation, for example prior to court involvement or being taken into care.
The meetings can be used to help resolve breakdowns in family relationships and issues of contact where the child is significant affected. They can also be used to explore the strengths of wider family and friend networks for support, improve family members communication for the benefit of their children and involve the wider family group to share accountability for the care and safety of the children and young people.
How do the meetings work?
Meetings are set up by an independent coordinator who is not involved in the planning or decisions made about the family. They organise a neutral venue and a convenient time and are fully trained to support the family through the process and arrange for the relevant professionals to attend. They do not assess the family, only decide if it is safe to hold the meeting.
The Family Group Conference Plus service is available to families across Devon. If you would like to know more or have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or download our ‘information for families’ leaflet.