Family Group Conferencing (FGC) is an alternative approach to working with and engaging families in the child protection context. The main objective of FGC is to give the extended family group (i.e., nuclear family, extended family, and friends) a voice in the decision-making process to ensure the safety and well-being of children at risk or in need of protection. FGC is a culturally-sensitive, alternative approach to child protection that empowers marginalized families; bringing together family group members to craft a plan of care for their children that addresses concerns identified by child welfare/children’s mental health professionals. A main benefit of the FGC process is that plans are developed for the vast majority of these children to return to or remain within their extended family systems.
Why use Family Group Conferencing?
What is Involved in a Conference?
FGC is a process whereby family group members (i.e., nuclear family, extended family, and friends) participate in the decision-making process to plan for a child(ren) that is at risk or in need of protection.
There are two distinct phases to the FGC process:
The Preparation Phase: This phase involves the coordinator meeting with all family group members and service providers who are invited to a conference. The goal is to prepare prospective participants by providing them with information about the conferencing process as well as the strengths and concerns identified by the professionals involved with the family. This phase takes approximately 5 to 8 weeks.
The Conference is the second phase. Conferences usually are held on evenings or weekends and last approximately 5.5 hours. Additional conferences can be requested if the family wishes to review/revise a plan. A conference is divided into 3 segments:
Opening and Information Sharing: This is the beginning of the conference and is marked in a ritual manner chosen by the family (e.g., prayer). Both family members and professionals attend this segment. The coordinator outlines the purpose of the conference and each person is introduced. Participants establish guidelines for a respectful process. Service providers present their reports and are available to answer questions. A speaker, at the request of the family, may address a topic relevant to the family (e.g., addictions, depression, death).
Family Private Time: During this period, family group members meet alone, without involvement of professionals or the coordinator, to craft a plan that addresses the child welfare concerns and ensures the future safety and well-being of the child. This time allows the family to share a meal and to discuss and share any intimate or confidential matters.
Review of the Plan: In the final stage, the family group presents their recommendation for a plan to the child welfare team. The plan is accepted if the child protection staff is assured that the child’s well-being and safety needs have been addressed.
FKSS is a range of services offered to foster parents, adoptive parents or kinship caregivers of children who have, or are suspected of having, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The services include individual consultations, a psycho-educational group, an ongoing support group and workshops.
Brief focused individual consultations are offered throughout the year.
A 10 week Psycho-educational Group is offered which includes educational presentations, weekly themes and supportive discussions.
Foster parents, adoptive parents or kinship caregivers are welcome to attend the monthly Support Group after participating in either the individual consultation or the psycho-educational group. The monthly support group offers supportive discussions and educational material and resources. Participants have the option of coming to any or all of the monthly support groups.