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Family Group Decision Making - Information for Professionals

"For Scotland to truly be the best place in the world for children to grow up, a fundamental shift is required in how decisions are made about children and families" (The Promise, page 7)

Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) is a strength-based approach designed to empower families to make a safe plan when there are concerns about a child or young person.

FGDM is blame free and future focussed. It is an opportunity to repair fractured family relationships to improve and grow a young person's network of support.

The role of the referrer

Your role is vital to the success of the FGDM process - you need to approve the family's plan, so it is important that you are clear on what your bottom lines are. Bottom lines are the things that cannot be compromised and must be addressed in the plan. These are agreed at the time of referral.

FGDM is appealing to families because of its voluntary nature; so, it is important that it is not confused with another statutory procedure.  We know that family meetings can be highly successful when families feel in control.  

If you feel that FGDM would benefit a family then:

  • Discuss FGDM with the family and ask if they would like to engage with the service. 
  • Obtain their consent to a referral, FGDM is a voluntary process and consent is essential.
  • Attend a referral meeting with the co-ordinator to share information including:
    • immediate concerns, 
    • positives, which will be built upon,
    • bottom lines, 
    • any barriers that the co-ordinator might encounter. For instance, does the child/adult have communication difficulties?
    • an up-to-date genogram if this is available

You will then be required to:

  • Attend follow up discussions with the co-ordinator when required.
  • Attend the family meeting to share the bottom lines and/or concerns.
  • Answer any questions the family have to support them complete their plan.
  • Promote and encourage the family's autonomy; this involves leaving the room during private family time.
  • Return to the meeting to review the plan.
  • Discuss any required changes to the plan.
  • Approve the plan.
  • Be part of the review process.

The role of the independent co-ordinator

Our independent co-ordinators are fully accredited to deliver the FGDM model. They play an impartial role, supporting the whole family to engage in the FGDM process and to produce a plan that addresses the concerns you have raised, taking into consideration your bottom lines. 

The co-ordinator will be the main point of contact throughout.  The co-ordinator will answer any initial concerns or queries you have.  Once you are satisfied that FGDM is an appropriate route, the co-ordinator will then:

  • Invite you to attend a referral meeting to discuss the immediate concerns, with a particular focus on the bottom lines, and what you would like the family to address in their plan.
  • Have an introductory meeting with the immediate family.
  • Establish any barriers to participation.
  • Plan and make arrangements to overcome those barriers, for instance, make arrangements for a child/adult advocate or source helpful communication tools such as Talking Mats.
  • Meet with the CYP and immediate family to understand their thoughts, feelings and hopes.
  • Make contact with the extended network.
  • Take time to engage and prepare them, establishing what support they can offer the family.
  • Support the family to plan the meeting in a way that is meaningful to them; this includes what food they would like at their meeting and where they would like the meeting to be held.
  • Support the whole family to prepare for the meeting.
  • Open the meeting and facilitate initial discussions.
  • Be available during private family time if the family need additional support.
  • Confirm the plan with the family, support them in making changes where required.
  • Support the family in presenting their plan to the case-holder if required.
  • Ensure everyone is in agreement, and the plan is signed off.
  • Agree a date to review the plan, the plan should be reviewed within 3 months' or sooner if required.
  • Write the plan up and distribute it to everyone who attended the meeting within 3 working days.
Last modified on 30 June 2023

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