Family group conferencing for children and families: Evaluation of implementation, context and effectiveness

Briefing for services on the Family Views and Context Study


The family group conferencing for children and families (Family VOICE) study is exploring the quality and effectiveness of family group conferences (FGCs). As part of the study, the research team based at Cardiff University are conducted a UK-wide survey to identify where FGCs are/are not taking place to better understand the extent and nature of FGCs in the UK.  

The research team asked children’s services managers and FGC service managers across all four nations to fill in a short 15-minute survey about the coverage and characteristics of FGCs in their area. To view the survey findings please use this link.


Overview of the Family VOICE study

A Family Group Conference (FGC) is a meeting where the wider family discuss children who need support and protection and decide on a plan for looking after them. 

The aim of the Family VOICE study is to increase understanding of quality and effectiveness in family group conferencing. These are the research questions:

  1. How widely are FGCs on offer in England and Wales and what are they used for?
  2. What do families and practitioners think affects how successful FGCs are?
  3. How do the quality of FGCs and variation in how they are used affect families’ experience and what happens to the family over the next year?
  4. What happens over the next two years to families who have had an FGC? Is there a difference in their use of services, compared with families who have not taken part in FGCs, and what does this cost?

Activities and Methods

The study runs from 1 October 2021 for 4 years

Work package (WP) 1 involves working with a group of families with experience of FGCs to work out the best approach for measuring FGC quality and what factors influence how well things work out.

WP2 involves working with a group of FGC projects across England and Wales to ask families to fill in the questionnaires we designed in WP1. We will contact those family members again 1 year later. 

WP3 involves following up what happens to children and their main carers, in the 2 years after following the FGC, using routinely collected data from social care and health records (with no individuals identifiable when we do the analysis). This information will be compared with other families with similar difficulties who have not taken part in an FGC, because this was not offered in their local authority. 

The Family VOICE Privacy Notice:


This is an ongoing study, and findings are yet to be published. See the survey report above for current findings.

Lead Person

Principal InvestigatorJonathan Scourfield

Academic Staff

ResearcherKar-Man Au
ResearcherRhiannon Evans
ResearcherFiona Lugg-Widger
Researcher Mel Meindl
ResearcherPhillip Pallmann
ResearcherStavros Petrou
ResearcherMike Robling
ResearcherDavid Wilkins
ResearcherRebecca Wilson 
ResearcherSophie Wood
Related Research CentresDECIPHer and the Centre for Trials Research at Cardiff University; Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at Oxford University
Related partnersY Bont and London Borough of Camden
FundersNational Institute for Health Research