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Strengthening Families, Protecting Children (SFPC)

The Family Group Conference strand of learning

Strengthening Families, Protecting Children (SFPC)

Family Group Conferences (FGC) can make a substantial positive impact on family engagement, putting families at the heart of decision-making. But introducing and developing them are complex activities. Significant culture change and a wide range of knowledge and skills are required, and both pose challenging requirements.

We (Darlington Children’s Services, Leeds Relational Practice Centre, and Mutual Ventures) are creating a strand of the learning programme to help with this. In common with all of the learning programme, it will build on the best knowledge: from users, practitioners, researchers, managers and policy makers. It will produce varied products, widely available, in particular via the Strengthening Families Journal

Events in the FGC strand will be both a knowledge exchange and an opportunity to share skills. They will always focus on being able to produce a range of products that can support the work beyond the event, including articles and other material that will be available on the SFPC website. We hope to produce some video material for short clips for websites and for use by SFPC agencies. We also aim to curate some material which will be of direct use for FGC work (e.g., job descriptions, leaflets for families, ‘constitution’ of family advisory group).

The overall plan

The intention is to run an event, of a differing nature as appropriate, approximately twice a year over the life of SFPC (i.e. until March 2024). Each event will, in imaginative and different ways, enable practitioners, managers, families, trainers and researchers to outline and analyse the knowledge they have gained through their experience, literature and research. The contributors and participants will include those with substantial and with limited experience, and they will be from a wide diversity of background.

Different events will be relevant for those at different stages of introducing or running FGCs. Limits on numbers will be as appropriate to the specific events. The first two events, open to those with experience of FGC on the Family Valued stream of the SFPC Programme, are planned for early summer and winter of 2021. These two events, and the materials from them, will focus on the foundations of an FGC programme, and then on family engagement in FGC. In the following year we hope to concentrate on the issues of professional involvement in FGC.

Materials and articles will be available from late summer of 2021.