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Introduction to Family Welfare Conference

Introduction to Family Welfare Conference
The FWC service was partially established in Laois/ Offaly in March 2006 with the appointment of Paul Byrne as Co-ordinator. The Team Leader, Michael Brosnahan was appointed in April 2007. The team was completed in October 2008 when Fidelma Grennan joined as a part time administrator

Contact details

Family Welfare Conference
Unit 2,
Midlands Gateway Business Park, Kilbeggan Co.Westmeath
Mobile: 086 8141146 ( Paul) 0866063156 ( Michael)
Landline: 057 9333595 - Fax: 057 9333599

Family Group Conferencing originated in New Zealand in the 1980s and became mandatory in all cases of child abuse and neglect with the passing of the Child, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989. It was an innovative response to the increasing number of Maori children in state care.

The model was designed to give families an opportunity to make their own decisions about the safety and welfare of their children. Ireland adopted the Family Group Conference style of intervention following a visit to New Zealand by Mr. Frank Fahy T.D. who went on a fact finding mission on behalf of the Department of Health. Mr. Fahey was very impressed with the model and it became an integral part of the new Children Act 2001, where the model known as Family Welfare Conferencing was given a firm foundation in law.

However this is not a new way of dealing with child welfare and protection in this country. The notion of kinship care and safely providing for children within the community dates back to the Brehon laws in Ireland.

Family Welfare Conferencing was piloted in Ireland in 1999 in the East Coast Area Health Board. Other pilot projects followed in the North Western Health Board, the Mid Western Health Board and other Health Boards until it was provided for by law in the Children Act 2001. Family Welfare Conferencing is now operational in all Health Service Executive areas.

The Children's Act also defines a role for the FWC Service in regard to Special Care Orders (S.C.O). These Orders allow for the civil detention of Children between 12-17 years old in Special Care units. These units are locked and the child will remain there for a minimum of 3 months. This is in response to behaviours that lead to the child's life and welfare being deemed at serious risk.

Referral Form

Please complete the referral form and e-mail to any of the following:


Referral Report Template

Annual Report

Publications / booklets

Family Welfare Conference Presentation