Mark Whitehead 14 June 2023

'Family group conferencing' helps keep at-risk children out of care

Family group conferencing helps keep at-risk children out of care image
Image: fizkes /

At-risk children who take part in 'family group conferencing' meetings are much less likely to go into care, a new study has found.

The research conducted by children's charity Coram also found that families referred for the meetings were less likely to be taken to court for decisions about their care.

Family group conferences are meetings led by family members to plan and make decisions for children who are at risk with the aim of creating and agreeing a plan to keep them safe.

The study, funded by Foundations – What Works Centre for Children & Families, was the first randomised controlled trial of the conferences to have been carried out in the UK.

It recommends that the conferences are provided for all families before care proceedings begin.

Coram chief executive Dr Carol Homden said: 'The study drew on the hard work of many hundreds of family members and professionals who took part.

'The insight gained will shape our understanding of how best to support families on the edge of the care system and could have a life-changing impact on generations of families to come.'

Foundations chief executive Dr Jo Casebourne said: 'We now have evidence that family group conferences, which empower families and children, have a higher success rate of keeping families together than going straight to care proceedings does.'

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