Family Group Conferencing is a family-focused, strengths based form of alternative dispute resolution that strengthens partnerships between Dept of Families & Community Services (FaCS) and families and encourages greater family decision making and responsibility. As part of the NSW Child Protection Legislative Reforms proclaimed in 2014, FGC was implemented by FACS through a staged roll out in all districts.
FGC aims to :
• Empower parents and families in making decisions to ensure the safety and well-being of children and young people at risk of significant harm, through
the development and implementation of a Family Plan.
• Improve outcomes for children and young people by providing them and their extended family with a stronger voice in decisions about their care.
• Maintain children in the care of family where possible by including extended family in the FGC process.
Benefits of FGC
• FGC involves extended family members, provides opportunities to identify family placements and for children and young people to be placed within the family network.
• It also can be used across the child protection system as early intervention during case planning following a safety and risk assessment, through to looking at restoration when a child is in out-of-home care. However, as part of the governments Safe Home for Life reforms they are seeking to use it as early as possible in the child protection continuum.
• FGC also demonstrates respect for families and their views and builds on the strengths of the family to facilitate change which provides safety for children and young people.
Outcomes of FGC
• Fewer children and young people are likely to enter out-of-home care, and where a child does need to come into care to keep them safe a greater number are placed with family.
• Family Plans which improve child safety are developed and implemented with families at an earlier stage in the child protection system.
• Reduced frequency and time spent by families and caseworkers with the court system.
• Supporting consideration of restoration as a permanent placement option as early as possible.
• Improved family engagement with FaCS.
• Provides information, engagement and collaboration with other services that can provide support to the family.
• Shared decision making and responsibility for implementing a family plan.
Family Group Conferencing has been recently been introduced within the context of the broader FaCS Care and Protection Practice Framework and Practice Standards.
The FGC model is based on the New Zealand model however participation of parents and families is voluntary. The FGC process consists of five important stages:
3. The Conference
4. Implementation of the Plan
5. Review of the Plan
The conference (stage 3) includes three significant components to the FGC model, which are:
• Introductions and information sharing
• Private family time, where the Family Plan is developed by the family
• Presentation, negotiation and agreement to the Family Plan
Family Support Network has a number of professional, trained FGC facilitators who can facilitate a conference for you on a fee for service basis.
If you wish to discuss having a conference please contact us and we will be happy to discuss this in more detail. or use the attached Referral Form, a 1.5MB Word document.