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Family Group Conferencing

Volume 472: debated on Tuesday 26 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what plans he has to expand the use of family group conferencing. (186766)

The Government recognise that Family Group Conferences (FGCs) can be important and useful mechanisms to assist decision making and planning around an individual child or children. While the use of FGCs is for local authorities or other agencies to determine in individual cases, the Government have taken steps to encourage their use where appropriate.

The Government’s statutory guidance “Working Together to Safeguard Children” explains how FGCs can be used as part of systems to plan for children in need and to help in safeguarding children. It is clear that, where there are plans to use FGCs in situations where there are concerns about possible harm to a child, they should be developed and implemented under the auspices of the Local Safeguarding Children Board.

FGCs are specifically commended in the revised Children Act 1989 Court Orders statutory guidance, published earlier this year, and included in the practice flowchart. In all applications for care proceedings, local authorities will be required to show what efforts have been made to enable the child to live with wider family and friends. An FGC would be an excellent means for a local authority to demonstrate how they have fulfilled this duty.

An FGC is a complex service to provide and requires high levels of skill and competence. We have responded to concerns from stakeholders that there is a lack of skill and knowledge available in the field to deliver effective family group conference services. For this reason, we announced in “Care Matters: Time for Change” that we would fund a programme of regional training events to equip managers and practitioners with the necessary skills to develop and sustain the family group conference model.