Family group conferences are used within the social care framework to provide care plans and safe placements for children on the brink of court proceedings, including cases involving domestic abuse. FGCs require substantial financial input and their effectiveness can be hampered by a range of factors including variable practices and a lack of child voice in the process.
Daybreak, in collaboration with Southwark and Wiltshire children’s services, offered an FGC to all families issued with a Public Law Outline letter. Through the use of FGCs the project aimed to ensure the voice of children was fully integrated into decision making.
The DfE-funded independent evaluation published in 2017 found that:
- 3 – 12 months after FGCs had been convened three quarters of children were living with a parent (83, 60%) or a relative (22,16%). The proportion of family placements was lower in cases where no FGC was convened (61% in total; 22 (50%) with parents and 5 (11%) with relatives).
- During the study timeframe, proceedings were initiated in 29% of FGC cases compared to 50% of cases where no FGC was convened.
- Three months after the FGC, 97% of survey respondents considered that the plan made constituted the best outcome for the child.