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Family Group conference truth & parenting assessment

Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 12:54 pm
by Inthedark
Hi this is my first time posting on a forum and I'm after some truthful (what really happens not what they say on paper happens) advice please. A little bit of background - my partners Nearly 4 year old son from a previous relationship was taken into foster care in February and is currently going through the care proceedings as his mother was caught (and arrested) assaulting him in a public (cctv evidence). cutting a very long story short for the purpose of this post my partner and I put ourselves forward as potential primary carers we have had our parenting assessments and are waiting for the reports which are due today. Obviously the mother has had a parenting assessment too plus a psychological assessment of which the outcome is very poor (report states that she is likely to hit the child again)

My partner and I have to attend a family group conference in 2 weeks which will be 2 days before the IRH final hearing in August. My concerns are that we feel we are being coaxed into going to this meeting to provide support for the mother in the event that the child is returned to her care. In other words we feel supporting her in this way would help her to increase the likelihood of the judge deciding to return the child to her care. This meeting seems to be about providing the best possible chance for the mother. Now we do not want to support a physically abusive mother with deep rooted mental health issues as we do not feel this is in the best interest of the child yet Childrens services and the family group coordinator keep telling us the Fgc is a good thing. Although we have been told we are not allowed to be judgemental negative or discuss what she did (the assault) at the meeting. Does anybody have any experience or advice of these Fgc meetings during care proceedings like this? Thanks in advance

Re: Family Group conference truth

Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 5:05 pm
by Suzie, FRG Adviser
Dear Inthedark,

Welcome to the Parents forum.

Have a look at our advice sheet about Family Group conferences and what to expect.
We also have a film that you might find helpful.

FGCs are based on the principle that families, if properly supported, will make safer and more relevant plans for their children than those made by professionals who don’t have an in depth knowledge of their family.

The aim would be to make a plan that is safe but also in the best interests of the child. If this is not possible, then the court will ultimately decide where the child will be living permanently.

Family Group Conferences can be used to provide support for a parent who has struggled to parent a child as in mum’s case. However, they can also be used to find the support of other parents, relatives or friends to care for a child if the parent finds they can no longer do so.

I can see that Dad wants to be the primary carer of the child and he is worried that the family group conference will only focus on one plan-the return of the child to mother. However, that should not be the case.

It is not the role of the FGC to look at all possible plans that a family put forward. The family could come up with plans which can be much more appropriate than what the social worker has suggested.

Dad will have a solicitor in the care proceedings. Could he ask his solicitor to set out his views and suggestion that he be the alternative carer?

Also good practice says that Family Group coordinators should circulate a written agenda setting out clear questions for the family before the meeting.
Get a copy of this as soon as you can and think about how you could challenge some of the assumptions.
Could a question about dad being an alternative carer be added? This would be an opportunity for you and dad to be clearer about your own position.
I hope this helps but please post back if you have any questions.

I don’t know whether any other posters can share their experiences of family Group conferences?

Best wishes,

Re: Family Group conference truth

Posted: Sun Jul 03, 2016 10:38 am
by Inthedark

Re: Family Group conference truth & parenting assessment

Posted: Wed Jul 06, 2016 3:02 pm
by Suzie, FRG Adviser
Dear In the dark

The Family Group Conference should act as a supportive framework to assist with effective care planning.

It should not be a forum to ask trick questions or even to catch out the participating family members in what can already be an understandably daunting process.

Instead, the wheels should be set in motion where everyone involved can work towards the same aim of being able to implement a robust safety plan for any child or children who are the subject of discussions.

Can I suggest you contact the FGC Coordinator to ask when you can expect a copy of the invite letters, agenda and that any arrangements for the meeting can be put implemented so that family members participation is supportive and meaningful.

I hope this helps.

Best Wishes