For your convenience, this web site is translated into several languages using automatic translation provided by Google. No machine translation system is perfect or intended to replace human translation. The official text is the English version of this website. All anomalies, ambiguities or differences due to the machine translation are non-binding and have no legal value If the translated version of this website poses problems of understanding, or if you have any questions about the validity and accuracy of the information provided, please refer to the English version which is the official version. What is Family Group Conferencing? 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. --- The History of Family Group Conferencing The concept of FGC originated in New Zealand based on concerns of the overrepresentation of aboriginal Maori children within child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Once absorbed into these systems, these children were lost to their families and their culture. Furthermore, Maori families were excluded from participating in the decision-making process pertaining to their children. These systems also demonstrated disregard for the more inclusive views of families held by the Maori. In addition to addressing concerns about the nature and number of out-of-home placements, The Child, Young Persons and Their Families Act and Family Group Conferencing were aimed at broader issues such as empowering families and increasing community participation and accountability. --- 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 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: Outcome: 88% of children planned for over the first seven years of the project were returned to the care of their extended family.
Please click here to read the Family Group Conferencing Brochure. --- Research and Evaluation In 2004-2005, with funding from the Centre of Excellence for Child Welfare, University of Toronto, the Family Group Conferencing Project of Toronto collaborated with investigators at the Children's Aid Society of Toronto and Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto to conduct an evaluation of the outcomes of Family Group Conferencing. This study illustrated many positive outcomes of the FGC program on key indicators of child safety and stability, including: · significant reductions in involvement with child welfare; · significant reductions in the number of child welfare investigations; · high percentages (89% ) of children remaining within and returning to families both immediately and in the long-term, on average 3 years. The Children’s Aid Society of Toronto and the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto are continuing the research into both short and long term outcomes for their cases referred to the FGC Project of Toronto. In addition to the outcome research, client satisfaction questionnaires are distributed to professionals and family members following conferences. They reveal high levels of satisfaction with: · the information needed to make the plan; · the opportunity to share and participate; · the experience of safety for self and others; · the sensitivity to cultural background of family; · the quality of the plan developed; · the overall process. Statistics on the number of clients served and number of conferences held are collected. --- The Family Group Conferencing Project of Toronto The Family Group Conferencing Project of Toronto was launched in September 1998 by a collaborative consisting of the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto (CCAS), the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto (CAST), the Etobicoke Children’s Centre, and the George Hull Centre for Children and Families. Native Child and Family Services and Jewish Family & Child Service subsequently joined. The structure and balance of the partnership is unique and critical to the Toronto Family Group Conferencing Project. It allows the model to sit in a “neutral space” thereby affording a strong adherence to the original philosophical framework. ---