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Our advice service

We provide advice to parents, grandparents, relatives, friends and kinship carers who are involved with children’s services in England or need their help. We can help you understand processes and options when social workers or courts are making decisions about your child’s welfare.

Our advice service is free, independent and confidential.

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By phone or email

To speak to an adviser, please call our free and confidential advice line 0808 801 0366 (Monday to Friday 9.30am to 3pm, excluding Bank Holidays). For Textphone dial 18001 followed by the advice line number. Or you can ask us a question via email using our advice enquiry form.

Discuss on our forums

Our online advice forums are an anonymous space where parents and kinship carers (also known as family and friends carers) can get legal and practical advice, build a support network and learn from other people’s experiences.

Advice on our website

Our get help and advice section describes the processes that you and your family are likely to go through, so that you know what to expect. Our webchat service can help you find the information and advice on our website which will help you understand the law and your rights.

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FGC Research and Briefings

Family group conferences originated in New Zealand in 1989 and are grounded in the Maori culture. Since its inception there has been interest from academics and researchers into the family group conference model, many seeing it as a significant shift in practice worthy of detailed study. Family group conferences are now used in approximately 30 countries worldwide and in at least 22 countries in Europe. As their use has spread they have been subject to considerable academic scrutiny and over the last two decades a substantial body of research has grown both in the UK and worldwide.

Some useful studies to consider in the first instance are:

New study shows family group conferences keep children out of the care system

This study by Foundations (formerly What Works for Children’s Social Care) definitively shows that family group conferences (FGCs) help families resolve concerns, keep children safely within their family network and avert children from entering the care system. The Randomised Control Trial study was conducted in 21 local authorities. The evaluation team led by Coram focused upon families involved in the pre-proceedings process, which is when a local authority is considering issuing care proceedings. The study compared child and parental outcomes of families referred for a family group conference with those not referred. The researchers found that family group conferences were cost effective, with children in referred families significantly less likely to go into care. (June 2023)


Family Group Conferences and Contextual Safeguarding briefing

This briefing has been jointly drawn up by Family Rights Group and the University of Bedfordshire. It considers how family group conferences (FGCs), informed by Contextual Safeguarding, can be utilised within children’s safeguarding as a response to extra-familial harm. The briefing is divided into three sections. Section one summarises the two approaches. The second section reflects on current knowledge of the crossovers between the two approaches and what we are yet to understand. The final section presents a case study and makes recommendations for how the two approaches can work together in the future, including questions for further development. (August 2021)


For an analysis exploring how the perspectives and experiences of different family group conference participants influences the outcomes of family group conferences

Reimagining child welfare outcomes: learning from Family Group Conferencing Child and Family Social Work

Mary Mitchell Dr (2019)

The School of Social and Political Science, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK


For an account of family group conferences as central to introducing systemic practice widely within a local authority

Leeds Family Valued Evaluation report

Paul Mason (ICF) with: Harry Ferguson (University of Nottingham); Kate Morris (University of Sheffield); Tony Munton (The RTK); and Robin Sen (University of Sheffield) (July 2017)


Contributors address the use of family group conferences in different circumstances, including child welfare, education, domestic violence and youth justice from a research, policy and practice perspective

Family Group Conferences – Where Next? Policies and Practices for the Future

Cathy Ashley, Paul Nixon (2007). Family Rights Group

Not available to download as an eBook. However, individual chapters are available on request to

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