Foundations launches project to understand how local authorities collect and report on use of Family Group Conferences, to help build a picture of access across England

4 April 2024

Foundations is excited to announce a new project to better understand the data that local authorities are collecting on the use of Family Group Conferences (FGCs). The work is being undertaken in partnership with Coram, Family Rights Group, Daybreak, and Data to Insight.

This project represents a significant stride for the future of FGCs – a family-led decision-making process, in which the wider family, friends and community network come together to plan for a child who is at risk of harm or abuse, ensuring the voice of the child is heard where possible. The project will identify methods for routinely collecting data on which families are offered and participate in Family Group Conferencing at pre-proceedings stage, and their outcomes. This will help build a picture of FGC access across England, which does not currently exist.

Foundations previously partnered with Coram and Daybreak to carry out the first Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) of FGCs in the UK, and the largest RCT of FGCs in the world. The evaluation showed that children whose families were referred for an FGC were less likely to go into care than those who were not. It also found that children of families referred for an FGC were less likely to be subject to care proceedings. As part of the national kinship care strategy, Foundations is working with the government and the sector to encourage all local authorities throughout England to use FGCs when appropriate, noting that FGCs are particularly cost-effective, with a saving of £960 per child referred in the first year.

The project announced today will contribute to improved understandings of what FGC data local authorities currently collect and what monitoring systems they use, which will inform the development of options for routinely collecting this information across England. This work will be undertaken alongside local authorities and key stakeholders. Families who have participated in FGCs will also be consulted. Recommendations will be co-designed with local authorities and experts, and are due in the middle of this year.

Dr Jo Casebourne, Chief Executive at Foundations, says:

“We’re thrilled to be collaborating with partners and local authorities to spearhead this important work on the use of Family Group Conferences. As we embark on the next phase for FGC rollout, a thorough understanding of current offerings and uses is paramount.”

Max Stanford, Head of Impact and Evaluation at Coram, says:

“Having undertaken the randomised controlled trial of Family Group Conferences for families in pre-proceedings with Daybreak, we are very excited to be partnering again with Daybreak, as well as Family Rights Group, and Data to Insight, to understand how local authorities collect and report on Family Group Conferences. This is critical to building the evidence base and helping support local authorities to continue to offer Family Group Conferences.”

Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive at Family Rights Group, says:

“Family Rights Group has been a champion for family group conferences since we introduced them to the UK from New Zealand in the 1990s. The evidence from research and practice is clear. By galvanising the strengths of families, high quality FGCs can deliver better outcomes for children, including supporting them to remain safely in their family. As a partner on this project, we want to see FGCs embedded as a central part of the child welfare system. They should be an offer for all families in need of care and protection.”

Debbie Burns, CEO at Daybreak, says:

“As a charity working alongside families, we see the positive impact that Family Group Conferencing can have on children, young people, and the adults who care for them daily. Having a greater understanding of their use and outcomes nationally will better enable organisations and Local Authorities to ensure more families can be offered timely solution-focused support. We are pleased to be continuing to collaborate with partners to deliver this significant project.”

Contact: Charlotte Kelsted, Senior Press Officer: 07949 339975 / 

Notes to editors

About Foundations

Foundations is the What Works Centre for Children & Families. We believe all children should have the foundational relationships they need to thrive in life. We’re researching, generating, and translating evidence into practical solutions that shape better policy and practice and lead to more effective family support services. Foundations was formed through the merger of What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC) and the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) in December 2022.  

About Coram

Coram is the first and longest serving children’s charity in the UK. Established as the Foundling Hospital in 1739, today we are a vibrant charity group of specialist organisations – the Coram Group – supporting hundreds of thousands of children, young people and families every year. 

We do this by championing children’s rights and wellbeing and making their lives better every day through our range of services. These include reading support and life skills education in schools for 300,000 children, adoption services for children waiting to find a home, mental health support, cultural programmes, and legal advice and advocacy for thousands of children and families every year.  

All of our work delivers across seven key outcomes for children and young people: A fair chance, A loving home, A voice that’s heard, A chance to shine, Skills for the future, No matter where and A society that cares. 

 For more information, please visit:  

About Family Rights Group

Family Rights Group is a national charity working to ensure the child welfare system supports children to live safely and thrive within their family. We also seek to strengthen the family and community networks of those children who cannot live at home. We pioneer innovative child welfare practices including family group conferences and Lifelong Links. We run the national family group conference network and quality assurance accreditation programme.

For more information, please visit: 

About Daybreak

Registered in 1999, Daybreak is a charity whose foundations are in growing the practice of Family Group Conferences in the UK. From this, we have seen the positive impact that occurs when families and communities are empowered to take action when faced with challenging situations.

Utilising a range of solution-focused approaches, we bring people together in families and communities to enable them to problem-solve, make decisions and choose what actions to take to move forward, be safe, and thrive.

Throughout our programs, our work relies on the principles of voluntary participation, transparency and openness for all, advocacy for those who need it, and for our work to be facilitative, not prescriptive.

To aid the development of good practice in this field, we also support Local Authorities, community organisations, and individual practitioners via training programs and ongoing opportunities for continuous professional development.

For more information, please visit:

About Data to Insight

Data to Insight (D2I) is the sector-led service for local authority children’s data professionals. 

​With support from DfE, DLUHC, Ofsted and ADCS, links to local authorities and regional networks all over England, and a cross-sector board of non-executive directors, we run a service hosted and led by local authorities to further their children’s services data work on a national scale.

​We draw funding from central sources where our goals align with government, in order to ensure that our service is freely available to every local authority, whether or not they are able to directly contribute to our work.

​We work to strict delivery standards to ensure quality and accessibility; most of what we do can be adopted by any local authority without the need for any new software, data processing, or data sharing.

We maintain shared toolkits, support collaborative projects, help build local capabilities, and enable engagement with national partners. We’re working to improve the children’s services data life-cycle, because converting data to insight is crucial in enabling services to support children.

For more information, please visit: