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National Center on Family Group Decision Making

​Each year there are millions of children and youth who come to the attention of child welfare, juvenile justice, school counselors/social workers, health care providers and other public/private agencies. Traditionally, many systems at best have worked only with the children and their current caregivers to resolve the concerns that brought them to the agency’s attention, and at worse, have excluded or marginalized the voices of caregivers and children. Family group decision making (FGDM)—an innovative social reform championed worldwide since the early 1990s—challenges this paradigm and practice, resulting in an inclusive and participatory process.

Join us for our next conference!
Call for Presentations
The International Conference on Innovations in Family Engagement
October 27-30, 2015 in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Announcing the 2015 FGDM Webinar Series! See webinar brochure
Register for June 17, 2015 webinar here
To stay informed as products and evaluations are released, please join our mailing list. 


Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) recognizes the importance of involving family groups in decision making about children who need protection or care, and it can be initiated by service providers and/or community organizations whenever a critical decision about a child or youth is required. In FGDM processes, a trained coordinator who is independent of the case brings together the family group and the service providers to create and carry out a plan to safeguard children and other family members. FGDM processes position the family group to lead decision making, and the statutory authorities agree to support family group plans that adequately address agency concerns. The statutory authorities also organize service providers from governmental and non-governmental agencies to access resources for implementing the plans. FGDM processes are not conflict-resolution approaches, therapeutic interventions or forums for ratifying professionally crafted decisions. Rather, FGDM processes actively seek the collaboration and leadership of family groups in crafting and implementing plans that meet the child’s/youth’s needs.
Numerous studies (See annotated research bibliography) show the process, cost and outcome impacts of implementing FGDM. In the field of child welfare, family group decision making has been proven to safely reduce the number of children in foster care, decrease the recurrence of child abuse and neglect and keep children connected to their roots and culture, which provides stability and helps them reach their full potential. With the Kempe Center’s work to expand the scope of FGDM into other systems that serve and support children, youth and families, the knowledge of its impact will grow. 
Other Resources

The National Center’s FGDM team has extensive practice and implementation experience with  in multiple meeting models and approaches including family group conferences, family team meetings, case planning conferences, family unity meetings and youth conferences to name a few.  The team has served as supervisors, coordinators, facilitators, training and coaching masters, practitioners, and program implementers in FGDM. 

Our team has developed and provided competency-based training and technical assistance on family group decision making and other family involvement practices to multiple communities in 20 states, Washington, D.C., Canada, and England.  Our approach starts with a training needs assessment to help us design and recommend a comprehensive approach from implementation to practice development and sustainability.   

Our service array includes in-person trainings, community forums or presentations, teleconferences, webinars, technical assistance or on-the-job coaching that can occur either on-site or virtually (through Skype). We offer continuing education units (CEUs) for many of our trainings and can tailor each learning opportunity to meet the individual needs of your agency or community. We also regularly contract with communities to develop specific coaching materials and plans, new curricula based on community needs, and train-the-trainer and coach-the-coach models to enhance community capacity and sustainability. 

In order to meet the needs of adult learners, the FGDM training team incorporates into all of its curricula the use of a variety of teaching modalities, including: classroom instruction and exercises, small and large group exercises, re-enactments, and/or video-conferencing and more. Additionally, we promote the use and integration of a continuum of training evaluation techniques, where possible, to assess the quality and effectiveness of training programs.

 Click Here for Details

Click Here to Request a Training for Your Organization

No Place Like Home
No Place Like Home is a 3-year project of national significance funded by a Family Connections grant from the Children's Bureau of the Administration for Children and Families, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, running from October 2011 through September 2014. This project strategically combines the assets of the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse & Neglect , Casey Family Programs  and three innovative child welfare agencies with mature family group decision making (FGDM) programs to test the effectiveness of FGDM in safely preventing children from entering or re-entering foster care when they are receiving in-home services. The project sites—Larimer County Department of Human Services , Colorado; South Dakota Department of Social Services ; and Texas Department of Family and Protective Services —have over two decades of collective experience in delivering FGDM to children and families who come to the attention of child welfare.
                                                   Click Here for More Information 
Protecting Children Journals for FGDM

Volume 18, Numbers 1&2, 2003
Volume 19, Number 4, 2005
Volume 21, Number 1, 2006
Volume 22, Number 1, 2007
Volume 23, Number 4, 2008
Volume 24, Number 4, 2009
Volume 25, Number 2, 2010 

Reports & Articles

Family Team Meeting (FTM): Process, Outcome, and Impact Evaluation

A Survey of International Practices, Policy & Research on Family Group Conferencing and Related Practices

Annotated Research Bibliography

The Family Conferencing  book

Looking for information about the next Conference on FGDM?

Beginning in 2015, we are merging the Conference on FGDM and Other Family Engagement Strategies with another annual conference into one event: The International Conference on Innovations in Family Engagement. Click here to visit the official webpage for the event.

17th National Conference on FGDM and Other Family Engagement Approaches
The Kempe Center hosted the 17th Annual Conference on Differential Response in Child Welfare in Vail, Colorado on June 10-13, 2014. This year’s theme, “Reaching New Heights with Families”, focused on ascending to genuine partnership with families. We had close to 300 practitioners, supervisors, administrators, trainers, researchers, attorneys, judges and advocates in child welfare from 27 states, tribal communities, Canada, and the UK. The conference was a huge success thanks to our planning committee, presenters, panelists and engaged participants. We hope to see you in Minnesota next year!

2014 Conference Handouts

If you have any questions, please email:


2015 Webinar Series on Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) and Other Family Engagement Approaches

 Building on the success of our annual FGDM conference and to complement our training institutes, the National Center on Family Group Decision Making began its Webinar Series on FGDM and Other Family Engagement Approaches in 2007. We recognize that some practitioners, coordinators, facilitators, service providers and other interested professionals are geographically isolated, work independently in their communities, or have limited resources to enhance their knowledge and practice. The National Center's FGDM team identifies topics for the Webinar Series based on training and conference evaluations and informal dialogues with our FGDM colleagues. We welcome your participation in the 2015 Webinar Series! Click here for 2015 Brochure                                      


Upcoming Webinar

Creating a Safety Net: Coordinating a Safe Process When Family Violence is Present 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 │ 2pm EDT, 1pm CDT, 12pm MDT, 11am PDT, 8am HST



Library of FGDM Webinar Recordings 2013 - Present 

These webinar recordings are provided to advance learning in the area of family engagement and decision making. The various webinars represent the perspectives of presenters from different jurisdictions and practice environments and therefore may not always align with the Guidelines for FGDM in Child Welfare, which were developed by an international committee in 2010.
Focus on Follow-Up
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Believe It or Not: The Interplay Between Child Welfare Agency Staff Attitudes and Knowledge about FGDM and Implementation   
Friday, December 12, 2014

Leading the Way: Supervisors Promoting Critical Thinking in FGDM Practice
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Sample Questions for Critical Thinkers.pdf
Strength Based Supervision.pdf
FGDM Supervision or Team ConsultationFramework.pdf
Supervision or Team Consultation Framework.pdf
Strategies To Assess Practice And Keep Your Team Engaged.pdf
Supervising to Support Best Practice.pdf

Family Group Decision Making: Engaging, Encouraging, and Empowering Families to Succeed
Preparing Parents for Family Meetings: A Path to Increased Family Engagement

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Detained Immigrant Parents Can Have a Place at the Table Too; The Parental Interest Directive
Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Learning the Dance Steps for the Third Part of the FGDM Meeting: A Dialogue Between a Child Welfare Manager and an FGDM Coordinator
Thursday, November 14, 2013

Children and Young People’s Participation in Family Group Conferencing
Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Values of Family Group Decision Making and Family Connections Practice:  The Ground We Stand On
Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Paternal Pathways to Family Connections in FGDM
Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Walking Our Talk: The Values of Family Group Decision Making in Action

Thursday, February 14, 2013