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The Family Group Conference (or FGC)
The Family Group Conference (or FGC) is where the whole whānau can help make decisions about the best way to support the family and take care of their child.
On this page:
New Zealand was the first country in the world to come up with the Family Group Conference, and it has been so successful that many other countries have followed our lead.
This is a formal meeting where the extended family comes together to talk about the concerns we have for their child or young person, and find solutions together.
There are two types of FGCs:
- The care and protection FGC, if there are concerns for the child’s safety. More information is below
- The Youth Justice' FGC, if the police believe a young person has broken the law.
Read more about what happens at the youth justice FGC
We will ask the extended whānau to attend an FGC so that together they can help make the best decisions for their child.
What is 'care or protection'?
This means keeping a child safe from harm or danger.
At the FGC we will ask the family whether they agree that their child needs 'care or protection'. Another way to think about it is to ask:
- do we need help from family, friends, Child, Youth and Family or anyone else to help keep the child safe and protected?
If the family needs help to make sure their child is well cared for
- we will work with them to help keep their child safe
- we might ask the wider whānau for their help
- we might find others who can take care of their child, while the family gets the help they need.
What happens at the care and protection FGC?
Each FGC meeting is unique because the family will help decide how the meeting will be run. But this is generally what will happen:
Sharing our worries about the child: The family will be provided with information about the concerns the social worker has for their child. They will talk about:
- why the social worker thinks the child is at risk, or in need of care and protection
- what’s already been done to help the child and family
- what has worked so far and what hasn’t.
Family time: The family has some time on their own to talk about the concerns, come up with ideas and begin making a plan so that their child can be cared for and kept safe.
The plan: The family shares it’s decisions with the others at the FGC. Everyone needs to agree on the concerns that will be dealt with, and come up with ways to help the child. The plan needs to be:
- realistic and clear
- say what needs to be done to keep the child safe;
- who will do the tasks, and
- when the tasks need to be done by.
"I was happy that I could say what I wanted to say without hurting anyone's feelings. I was happy that we talked about our future and our dreams." child
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Who can come to the FGC?
- the child or children
- the family and whānau – as many as possible
- a social worker
- a 'care and protection coordinator' - this is the person who runs the meeting
- there may also be other people who can help, like the police, a lawyer, a nurse or teacher.