Family Group Conference

Background

All agencies in Leeds, through the Children and Young People’s Plan, have a clear commitment to restorative practice and putting families at the heart of decision making.

The restorative approach taken by partners in Leeds was endorsed by Ofsted in their inspection of Children’s Services and the Leeds Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) in 2015.  

As part of the commitment to working restoratively with families, Children’s Services have invested in expanding the Family Group Conference (FGC) service to enable a conference to be offered to more families, earlier in the lifetime of the issues they are experiencing.   The long term ambition is to make the offer of a Family Group Conference an entitlement for all families experiencing difficulties. Due to the continued success of FGCs we have been granted permission by Department for Education to trial new practices in Leeds, which depart from the existing statutory guidance.  For more information about Family Group Conference, click here.


What is happening?

Currently all families whose child/ren are subject to a child protection plan are offered an FGC.  From this month onwards, an expanded offer will be available in 3 areas of the city - Bramley, Richmond Hill and Crossgates. This means that some families will be offered a Family Group Conference as an alternative to a full Initial Child Protection Conference (ICPC).

A new process has been drawn up which adheres as closely as possible to Working Together 2015 guidelines, but which supports a new way of working with these cases.  The development and implementation of the process is a partnership approach and is being overseen by an LSCB  Reference Group.  Permission to depart from existing ICPC timescales has been granted by the Children’s Minister, Edward Timpson.

 

What will be different?

If you are involved in a case that may be suitable for FGC through the new strand of work, you will be asked to attend a strategy meeting to inform whether a case should go forward for an FGC instead of an ICPC.  If the case progresses down this route, in some cases an ICPC will no longer be necessary and the support for the family will be agreed through the family plan.  You may also be asked to attend the Family Group Conference. 

For further information please see:

 

What will be the same?

The safety and welfare of the child/ren remains paramount.  As far as possible, the new procedure adheres to Working Together 2015 guidance.  Only cases that have been identified as meeting a set of guiding principles will be considered for FGC, all other cases will continue to be managed in accordance with the existing statutory framework.  If at any point the risks are too great to manage via a Family Group Conference, the case will revert to the statutory child protection route.


What is expected of me/my organisation?

You will still be asked to provide information regarding your knowledge of the child/ren and family to inform decision making around management of risk and to inform ‘the bottom line’ to be addressed in the family plan.  You will also be asked to attend a strategy meeting, and to offer support services where appropriate.  In some cases you will be asked to attend the Family Group Conference. Full information about responsibilities can be found in the guidance.


Where can I get more information?

The guidance and flowchart outline the current thinking about the process.  For more information about Family Group Conference please click here.  If you need further information about the new process you can contact the FGC manager for your area for advice. 


How can I get involved?

Your feedback on how the new process is working is vital.  The Social Work Team Manager in each of the trial areas is available to discuss this with you and how it will work (see below).  You can also feedback your experience through your own management structure so that this can be relayed to the LSCB Reference Group.


What will happen next?

Managers within the three trial areas have started to identify potential cases for this pathway and you will be contacted if you are involved a case which will be managed through the new pathway. The work will be kept under review by the LSCB Reference Group and the guidance and flowchart amended as the work progresses. The approach will be rolled out more widely across the city based on the learning during the initial prototype period – we will keep you updated when this is due to happen.  Further information will be available for practitioners, children and young people and parents on our website in the coming months.


Social work team manager contacts:

Richmond Hill – Jayne Bedford jayne.bedford@leeds.gov.uk
Bramley – Lynn Roberts lynn.roberts@leeds.gov.uk
Crossgates – Farrah Khan Farrah.khan@leeds.gov.uk