Welcome - European Network on Family Group Conference

Democratizing help and welfare in Europe
Giving trust makes a big difference

‘A great example of giving trust’, said my colleague this week when she told me about a Family Group Conference for four children. She was talking about the trust that the Family Guardian had in a family, in a situation that was not simple and where the concerns were big.

A single mother lived in a small village with her four children. The father had left after the birth of the youngest child. There was no contact with him. Everything was going pretty well, until the moment the mother went on a short trip to Spain and was arrested and imprisoned in a Spanish prison. For a long time. The government took its responsibility and the judge appointed a temporary Guardian from the Child Protection Services. A plan was needed.

As little change as possible
The guardian saw immediately that there was an involved family: two cousins of the children had moved in with the children immediately after the arrest of the mother. Other family members kept an eye on things. The guardian said: ‘A Family Group conference is needed here’. The question for the conference was: ‘How can we ensure the safety, with as little change as possible for the children’. The guardian said: ‘The children are doing well at school, they have friends in the neighbourhood, they feel good here. It is important to hold on to that. But it has to be safe and stable’.

The family had a Family Group conference and made a plan. The children could stay in their own home. The two cousins (20 and 21 years old) came to live with them. They made appointments about how the children could stay in touch with their mother. Uncles and aunts provided support for both the cousins and the children. For example by taking care of the children during the weekend, to give the cousins time for themselves. A neighbour offered to cook for all of them twice a week and join them for dinner. An aunt became guardian for the children. A judge appointed her officially as their guardian after the conference. This aunt also became the contact person for the children’s school. The temporary guardian of the child protection services said: ‘This is as it should be. I can get out with a good feeling!’


A story from the Netherlands

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