The Family Group Conference (FGC) was a nightmare as we thought it would be. Mum appeared to think it was some kind of party rather than a serious meeting to discuss the future of her children. As a Foster Carer it is important to attend meetings with the right attitude and in a professional manner. As a Foster Carer I have sat in meetings and been talked about in a negative fashion but remained professional and not responded. However this meeting was like nothing I’d ever attended before. In attendance were my wife and I, the four young people, the Social Worker, the Supervising Social Worker, Mum, Nan and Nan’s partner. The venue was a local sports venue and they provided catering including hot food. The Social Worker chaired the meeting and I really felt sorry for them as they were battling against 7 people who had no idea how to behave or who had no respect for other people’s opinions. The first issue was actually getting everyone to sit around the table. Any semblance of good behaviour the children had shown, since they’d been with us, went out the window and they obviously resorted to the type of behaviour they displayed at home.

They were, basically, rude and unwilling to listen to other people talk. However as soon as the Mum, Nan and partner started talking that it became obvious where their behaviour came from. You could excuse young people, but not grown adults, for rudeness and lack of respect. Some of the language was unacceptable and the constant interrupting was making the rest of us frustrated. It was decided to have something to eat first in the hope that it would maybe calm things down so that matters could be agreed on. However the behaviour at the table showed us why the kid’s table manners were so bad when they joined us. It was a fight to see who get the most food and who could eat the fastest. This was actively encouraged by Mum and Nan. In fact it was so bad that one of the younger children vomited due to eating too much, too quickly. Mum laughed when this happened. Mum asked if they could get drinks and whether they were free too. She was told that yes they could get non-alcoholic drinks or tea and coffee. Mum said she wanted a Cider but was told no. The kids all wanted ‘fizzy’ but we said no to this as it would make the kids even more hyper. After the food had been cleared away we sat down to talk about the children and how the future looked for them. Mum actually had a list of what she wanted, which included fortnightly contact with the children being taken to her and brought home by Social Services. She wanted money so she could do things with the kids, during contact, and she wanted unlimited phone contact with all the children being given mobile phones by Social Services.

The Social Worker hurriedly scribbled down Mums lists of requirements and the children started saying they wanted the latest phones, new trainers and clothes. Mum also said that it was up to the children whether they attended school and that we should respect their wishes. The Social Worker said that the children would be attending school and there was no discussion around that situation. It all became a bit loud and raucous but my wife and I decided to sit things out and allow the Social Worker to deal with these issues. The meeting ended and Mum and other family left and the rest of us went back to my house to discuss matters further.

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