How are family group conferences used in child protection and during a pre-proceedings process?
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When there are child protection concerns, children’s services might consider it is not safe for a child to be at home. In this situation, they should work with families to explore other safe options. This includes exploring whether a child can live safely with someone else in their family and friends’ network. This means it is important to involve wider family at an early stage. A family group conference can be an extremely useful way of doing this
Government statutory guidance says:
‘It is important that wider family are identified and involved as early as possible as they can play a key role in supporting the child and help parents address identified problems. Where problems escalate and children cannot remain safely with parents, local authorities should seek to place children with suitable wider family members where it is safe to do so.’
‘Children’s services should consider making a referral for a family group conference ‘if they believe there is a possibility that the child may not be able to remain with their parents… unless this would place the child at risk.’
Children’s services must have regard this statutory guidance. The courts have said this means statutory guidance should be followed unless there is good reason not to (case of R v Islington LBC ex p Rixon  1).