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The Family VOICE research project

3 February 2022

Family on beach silhouetted against sunrise

The Family VOICE research project has been awarded £1.2m by the National Institute for Health Research to develop understanding of the quality and effectiveness of family group conferencing.

A Family Group Conference (FGC) is a meeting where the wider family discuss children who need support and protection, and make a plan for looking after them. The aim of them is to empower families to make plans and decisions for themselves when there is concern for a child.

The study will explore how widely FGCs are on offer in England and Wales, how successful they are, and variations across the UK.

The four year project, beginning in October 2021, will be led by the Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE) at Cardiff University, and Professor Jonathan Scourfield.

The team will work in collaboration with the Centre for Trials Research, the Centre for Development, Evaluation, Complexity and Implementation in Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer), the University of Oxford, and the Family Rights Group.

Researchers will work closely with families who have experienced FGCs, and follow a group of ongoing FGC projects across England and Wales.

They will also conduct a two-year review of families who have had these conferences, and identify any differences in their use of services.

Family group conferences are a potentially powerful way to shift decision-making from professionals to families in children’s social care. We’re delighted that the National Institute for Health Research has decided to invest in research to improve the UK evidence base.

Professor Jonathan Scourfield Professor

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