What is a Family Group Conference?
It is Family Led Decision Making
A family group conference is a process led by family members to make decisions about a plan to care for a child, young person or other vulnerable family members at risk. Children and young people are usually participants at the conference, sometimes with the support of an advocate. It is a process that can get better outcomes than decision-making led by authorities such as child protection, as it taps into the resources of the entire extended family and a more comprehensive network of professionals and friends who can assist.
What is the definition of family in a family group conference?
The facilitator negotiates with the family who is considered family and who should be at a conference. It might extend to family friends who are honorary aunties and uncles, and extended family. A cousin may attend as a support person for a young person. In some cases, family members may not be invited either due to a requirement that they are excluded by a child safety authority or by other family members.
The facilitator will work with the family to help them decide who should be there and meet with all participants to explain the process, the purpose, the guiding questions and anything else they need to know to prepare for the day. Find out more about training to become a Family Group Conference Facilitator. Family Group Conference Facilitator Training
The family group conference is in three parts.
- In the first part of the meeting, the family members meet with social workers and other professionals who talk about their concerns for the vulnerable family member and what support they can provide. Then there is a meal shared by all participants.
- After that is family time, and the family members are left alone to make their own plan for the child. The family group conference facilitator will have helped them with “guiding questions” such as “Where will Tommy and Nikki live?” and any bottom lines imposed by authorities, such as a particular person they can’t live with. The facilitator may come in and out during the session, but they will not be facilitating it or being the scribe for the plan. The purpose of this process is to empower the family, not to lead them.
- The final stage is presenting the plan to the professionals who have remained waiting outside. Depending on the level of involvement of child protection or other authorities, they may have the power of veto, but the intention is that they support the plan if at all possible.
After the day of the conference, there should be ongoing support and a scheduled plan review after a while.
Family Group Conferences are now the preferred approach to making decisions for children needing out-of-home care in NSW. It is especially relevant for indigenous families where only the family understands the complex kinship relationships and capabilities of family members. The process is used in more than 20 countries throughout the world.
Family Group Conferencing is cost-effective and successful in making safe plans for children, which allows many to stay within their family network as an alternative to going into the foster care system.
Eve Clare- Lead Trainer
Eve is a Qualified Mediator, FDR Practitioner and Dynamic Qualified Trainer, providing hands-on coaching and activity-based learning.
Eve works in regional areas across NSW as a leading consultant for Family Group Conferencing. Eve was one of the first Family Group Conference Facilitators in Australia, partaking in Australia’s Pilot Program in 2011 across regional areas of Australia.
Eve is a chosen Panel Provider for DCJ Family Group Conferencing and has a strong knowledge of family Intervention work. She is working closely with child protection, NGO services, Out of Home Care Agencies and families to assist in building safe homes for children as one of the first Family Preservation workers in Australia.
Most of Eve’s work has been with Aboriginal Families and Children within restorative and Family Preservation work.
Having worked in the family services field for over 15 years, Eve has expanded her work into training other workers in the Family Intervention and Mediation field.
She sees the need for more empowering processes that use a neutral facilitator to assist people in creating plans that are future-focused, relevant to the individual children and family situation and keep the children’s interest at the heart of the decision-making.
Eve believes families and children should be part of all decisions made and provides others she trains with a whole family future-focused approach.
Eve combines her personal life and educational skills to create a dynamic and fundamental understanding of family challenges, resilience and strength.
Hurry! September registrations for the Mi Family Group Conference Facilitator Online Workshop closing soon.
Join Eve Clare for the following Family Group Conference Facilitator Training Workshops that, along with online learning, will make you eligible for FGC Certification.
The following workshop dates are the 9th, 15th and 16th of September. Find out more about becoming a Certified Family Group Conference Facilitator.
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