Partnering Together with Families to Protect & Provide for Children and Youth
The purpose of Family Group Conferencing is to establish plans that provide for the safety and permanency needs of children and youth. This is an opportunity for families to build on their strengths and plan for their children's future.
The meeting consists of three parts.
All participants are present and included in this part of the meeting. This is the information sharing and clarification segment of the meeting and a time to answer any other questions which may arise.
This is the family's private time to meet and decide on a plan. Only the family is in the meeting at this time with the facilitator and caseworker available to answer any questions.
Now the family presents their plan and feedback is provided as necessary. Finally an agreement is reached about how to best meet the child's/youth's needs.
When an agreement is reached by the participants it is written into a document called the "Family Plan." This document will be sent out to all participants. This will contain a primary plan and an alternative plan for the child in case the primary plan does not work out. It should also include the following:
Participants: Each participant is contacted by the facilitator and they may identify other persons who should attend the meeting. Parents or legal guardians of the child/youth will be informed of all potential participants. The safety of every person attending the family group decision making meeting is critical. After the purpose of the meeting has been discussed with the family and the Facilitator, a time and place for the meeting will be set.
Special needs of participants for language interpreters, building access for persons with disabilities, or alternative format materials should be discussed at this point.
Food is a traditional element of family gatherings. Family members promote this tradition by bringing food to share with each other.
Process: Questions about the meeting process can be discussed with the Facilitator prior to the meeting. The Facilitator can answer any questions about how to proceed and will encourage each participant to speak up for the needs of each child. The purpose of this meeting is to focus on the needs of the child/youth.
Because every family is unique, there may be occasions when a different meeting format is appropriate. Family Group Conferencing is for the family and offers the flexibility to meet each family's needs.