Camden Family Group Conference
Camden FGC is not a service with a traditional project base and a telephone reception. It is a collaborative enterprise across teams, services and directorates. Accredited by the DfE funded FGC standards programme, Camden FGC adheres to the FGC National Quality Standards Framework. Consistent with Camden’s model of social work and the value placed on participation, borough residents of all ages utilise FGC. FGCs are used for family and community problem solving beyond child protection and across an individual’s life course, holding the conversation when it can make a difference. Across the life course of people and life situations The quality of the conversation is important. In Camden this is facilitated by meeting people in community spaces, building relationships and taking a culturally appropriate approach. FGC facilitation matches language and reflects family and community heritage where possible, providing a bridge to understanding and the potential of coordinated family help. The social worker or other referring professional is key to the quality of the conversation, they make the move to step into the community, to listen, to participate in a familymajority meeting. This signals respect and their valuing of the individual and the process.
A Family Group Conference (FGC) is a meeting to make plans and decisions about a child.
An FGC is convened and run by an independent co-ordinator, ‘family’ is defined broadly here, to include the child, parents, extended family, including those from a distance, with other adults and friends who are concerned and care about the child or adult that needs support. The role of professionals at the FGC is to provide information and consultation rather than to influence or make decisions. At the FGC, the family will have private discussion time to produce their plan to meet the needs of the child or adult at the centre of the process. The family’s plan should be accepted, supported and resourced provided it does not put the child or adult at risk of harm.
Consistent with Camden’s model of social work and the value placed on participation, our borough residents of all ages utilise FGC, in the domain of child protection and beyond, it is used for family and community problem solving on a wide-ranging basis (for example Safeguarding Adults, Youth Safety, Early Help for families). The quality of the conversation is important, in Camden this is facilitated by meeting people in community spaces, building relationships and taking a culturally appropriate approach. FGC facilitation matches language and reflects family and community heritage where possible, whilst providing a bridge for that all important citizen led conversation.
Family Advisory Board and Camden Conversations
In Camden, its citizen-led Family Advisory Board is now in its 8th year. This parent group has given a platform for participation, inclusion and the co-construction of services which has been very useful to the local authority.
Camden Conversations is an example of this 'a family-led child protection inquiry' it was born out of a partnership with academic Professor Anna Gupta and ‘Annie’ from Surviving Safeguarding and became a developing case study in the power of parents to change how social workers conceive of their practice.
Throughout 2018, our parent-activists led this major participatory research project into child protection practices, engaging other parents and also professionals to talk about their experiences, which enabled them to participate and influence the system.
Their final report has already led to real change, for example, parents now lead monthly “learning exchange” workshops, sharing with practitioners their experiences of subjects such as domestic violence and of being in state care. The relationship between the independent chair of the child protection meetings and the family is being improved; the chair now keeps in contact with the family between meetings so the family has the opportunity to give feedback and build a trusting relationship so they can speak openly and honestly.
Link to full report and recommendations:
Camden Conversations a video summary
Whole service conversation led by parents and young people