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) 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.
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 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.
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