Care and Protection family group conferences

The Care and Protection family group conference (FGC) is a formal meeting where the whānau comes together with professionals to talk about the concerns we have for a child or young person, and come up with a plan.

family group conference

Just as every child is different, so is every family group conference. But what’s common is that everyone who attends is there to set aside any differences, and put the child's needs front and centre.

What is a family group conference (FGC)?

Why we have an FGC, and how these can help your child and whānau.

Transcript

What is a family group conference? – video transcript

(Words on the screen: What is a family group conference?)

(Guitar music starts)

Narrator:

Family group conferences, or FGCs, are a way of involving the whole whānau and professionals in a conversation about things that are working well, things that aren’t so good and things that need to change so their children can be safe and well cared for.

Family ownership and decision-making is pretty powerful. For some people the idea of a family group conference can be a bit scary. But actually, it’s just about coming together to get things right for the children. That’s a good thing and it works.

(Music fades out)

Julie (Mother):

Well we’d tried lots of things beforehand and we had lots of different professionals involved, but it was all a bit fragmented.

Patrick (Grandfather):

They recommended that we have a family group conference and involve the other families and mokos to try and work things out and all come to an understanding. We were willing to give anything a go. Yeah sounded like a good idea.

Danny (FGC Coordinator):

It’s really important to have family or whānau, as many as possible, to attend the conference to give more options within the whānau and the families as opposed to us having to take the lead around key decision-making.

Debbie (Advisor, Office of the Chief Social Worker):

And family meaning the people that the family, the children the child and their Mum and Dad and Grandma and whoever, consider to be family. So sometimes family might not be blood relatives. It might just be people who are really close to the family and they want to have there.

Rochelle (Mother):

Having my son’s grandmother involved, she was really supportive. She was my big support out of everything and everyone.

(Oranga Tamariki logo comes on screen)

End of transcript.

Getting ready for your family group conference (FGC)

The things you need to do to prepare for this important meeting.

Transcript

Getting ready for your family group conference – video transcript

(Words on the screen: Getting ready for your family group conference)

(Guitar music starts)

Narrator:

The more prepared you are for the FGC, the better it’ll go. That means understanding how it works, thinking about what you want to say, and getting information about things you want to suggest.

(Music fades)

Thomas (FGC Coordinator):

I will talk with the family about whether I have somebody come in, to open the process culturally appropriate to them, whether it be Samoan, Tongan, Somalian whoever.

The process is that we meet with them, identify whether we need an interpreter and whether there’s a different process that they follow in relation to when they come together. And that’s just acknowledging and working culturally appropriately.

Letitia (young person):

It should be comfortable since you have to go to it. I reckon you should be in a place where you feel comfortable, not frightened.

Debbie (Advisor, Office of the Chief Social Worker):

Families have got two things really. It is about being open to the information that is coming, which shouldn’t be a surprise to them, they should already know what the concerns and issues are. And also to be in a position to challenge that if you like, or to put an opposite view. But also more importantly to come together and say actually, those are things that we don’t, we’re not happy that this is happening. As a family we want to do something different, and this is what we’re going to offer up as a family to solve those problems. So they need to be thinking, they need to be in problem solving mode as much as they can.

Patrick (Grandfather):

Go prepared, like how else can you help your child? If it’s through schooling, look up places before you go to it so you’re not going empty handed and you’re not leaving everything up to the Department. And you’re going in there and you can play your cards.

(Oranga Tamariki logo comes on screen)

End of transcript.

Discussing your strengths as a family

Every family has strengths. Knowing them can be a major asset.

Transcript

Discussing your strengths as a family – video transcript

(Words on screen: Discussing your strengths)

(Music starts)

Narrator:

The point of the FGC isn’t to find someone to blame, it’s about finding your family’s strengths and working out how to make things better for kids. To do that it’s important that everyone’s involved and can have their say. It’s great if kids can take part, at least for some of the time so that we can say what we’re feeling and what our hopes are for the future.

(Music fades out)

Danny (FGC Coordinator):

My role is to make sure firstly that all of that relevant information is presented to the conference. The other part of my role is to manage the emotions that come with it because you know all new information does create a shift for where the family are sitting.

Patrick (Grandfather):

Because we all turned up there with a negative attitude, you know, we want our kids and you aren’t going to get them, to the other family. Then Danny told us, then oh yeah the penny dropped. It’s not about us, it’s about the kids.

Letitia (young person):

I reckon the 3 Houses for me was good because my social worker found out my strengths and my worries and my hopes and dreams and she’s been working on my worries with me ever since.

Danny (FGC Coordinator):

I had this young girl that had asked me herself if she could have a place to talk in the conference which I thought was absolutely wonderful. But it wasn’t just about where she sat with things – she had talked to her younger siblings. She had a letter and she talked about “this is what we’re wanting, this is how we feel”, and I just thought that was absolutely great.

Hope (young person):

I think there should be someone there that’s on your side, like from your point of view, like your perspective of it, and they should help you get your point across and be your voice.

(Oranga Tamariki logo comes on screen)

End of transcript.

Coming up with a plan

When you have a plan, it gives you something everyone can work towards.

Transcript

Coming up with a plan – video transcript

(Word on screen: Coming up with a plan)

(Music starts)

Narrator:

Once everyone’s had their say, and there are ideas about what needs to happen to keep the kids safe and well cared for, the family get some private time together. You’ll have as much time as you need to come up with a plan for the future. Then everyone at the FGC needs to agree on the plan and know what they need to be doing to make it happen.

(Music fades)

Thomas (FGC Coordinator):

They need time. They then determine if they agree with those recommendations or whether they believe that they can come up with a better plan. Or they may incorporate those recommendations with a plan that they already have in mind. The hope is that the family will be very clear about addressing those concerns and being able to come up with those options.

Danny (FGC Coordinator):

We want you to sit together as a whānau and that’s about putting your mokopuna or your children in the centre and focus on that as being part of your whānau time, what would you like to see happen as a whānau for your children? So for me that is really a big challenge for them because I said if you can’t do this on your own, then how are you going to turn around and be able to do this after this conference is over?

Debbie (Advisor, Office of the Chief Social Worker):

For the families themselves, they need to be thinking about “How afterwards do I keep this alive?”, “How do I make it part of what we do?” because it is about a partnership at the end of the day, it’s about what family can do and what we can do as the Agency, how we can bring that together and do that together.

Rochelle (Mother):

You put plans that you talk about into action, make them happen. It is really important.

Antoni (young person):

It also brings the family closer together. You bond more, you speak more than usual and get to see each other eye to eye and focus on the positives, not the negatives.

Julie-Anne (young person):

It’s good to have them because then everyone’s on the same page and you know what’s happening and you feel much better, like a huge weight is lifted off your shoulders ‘cos you know what’s happening, you know.

Hope (young person):

I didn’t really think much would come from it, like, I didn’t think it would make much of a difference. It did.

Julie-Anne (young person):

It does feel like they’re all on my side, it does feel like they’re all there for me, like they’ve all come together to discuss what’s going to happen for me, which is nice.

(Music plays and then fades)

(Oranga Tamariki logo comes on screen)

End of transcript.

Published: January 15, 2020 · Updated: September 29, 2020