Family Group Conferencing & Family Group Decision Making
  • Resources
  • Guides from the States
  • Curriculum
  • Webcast
  • Bibliographies
  • Websites

  • Resources

    • Family Group Decision Making: Building and Reinvigorating Relationships
      Developed by the National Resource Center for Healthy Marriage and Families, this fact sheet provides an introduction to the concept of family group decision making and explores how it positively affects family and other interpersonal relationships.  The origin of family group conferences and the core elements of family group decision making are discussed, as well as how this practice strengthens relationships within families, between agencies and families, and among community members. (2013)

    • Tools for Permanency - Family Group Decision Making:
      This tool offers information about this family-focused, culturally sensitive approach to developing safety and permanency plans with families for children who are in foster care or who are at risk of entering foster care due to parental abuse or neglect.

    • Mainstreaming Family Group Conferencing: Building and Sustaining Partnerships
      This article by Joan Pennell of North Carolina State University suggests that the practice of family group conferencing in child welfare has moved away from the initial goal of joint problem solving and toward “systemic goals of maintaining control, meeting regulations, containing costs, and avoiding litigation.” She recommends nine steps for building partnerships for initiating and sustaining family group conferencing.

    • Family Group Decision-Making
      Texas began Family Group Decision-Making in multiple sites across the state in December 2003. A preliminary evaluation and briefing about this practice are available.

    • Family Team Conferencing
      This brief from the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group explains the purpose and activities of a Family Team Conference in child welfare services, discusses the benefits, key principles, how Family Team Conferences have evolved, and characteristics. Elements of Family Team Conferences are described, along with decision making strategies under the Family Team Conferences model. An attachment describes specific steps of a Family Team Conference

    • Family Group Conferences: Principles and Practice Guidance
      Intended for parents and child welfare agency personnel in the United Kingdom, this publication provides information about family group counseling (FGC) in child welfare practice. It begins by describing FGC as a way of giving families the chance to get together to try and make the best plan possible for children, and explaining that the decision makers at a FGC are the family members, and not the professionals. The steps of FGC are outlined and include referral, preparation for the meeting, the conference itself and the development of the family plan, and reviewing the plan. Principles of FGC are discussed to inform families on what to expect from FGC, followed by practice guidance that addresses how each of the principles will be met.

    • Safeguarding Everyone in the Family: Family Group Conferences and Family Violence
      This article from Social Work Now discusses the use of family group conferences in cases of domestic violence.

    • Critical Elements for Family Team Decision Making
      This issue brief by Advocates for Children and Youth describes the family-centered case practice that Maryland is implementing to enable more families to safely keep their own children and keep more children out of foster homes or group care. It reviews some of the essential elements of a credible plan to expand family-centered case practice in Maryland, including: the establishment of one and only one uniform, family-centered case practice model; the utilization of the best practices of partnering with families, including: teaming, engaging, assessing, planning, and intervening; strong team facilitation; well-trained caseworkers; well-trained supervisors; implementation of Quality Service Reviews; development of training and coaching capacity; logistical planning for team meetings; identification of best services for individual families; a rollout strategy; engagement of everyone involved in the court process and the various community members who will serve on teams or provide services; policies and personnel evaluations; external assistance; the identification of case practice as the priority; and budgeting for creating the capacity to do family centered-case practice. (February 2009)

    • Family Group Decision Making: The Importance of Independent Coordination
      This issue brief from American Humane Association expands upon the importance of independent coordination of the FGDM process. (2009)

    • Dads and Paternal Relatives: Using Family Group Decision Making to Refocus the Child Welfare System on the Entire Family Constellation
      This American Human Issues in Brief discusses how FGDM can help refocus the child welfare system on the entire family, including dads and paternal relatives. (2009)

    • Guidelines for Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) in Child Welfare
      American Humane, in partnership with the FGDM Guidelines Committee, released this landmark publication. They hope that these guidelines will not only facilitate greater understanding of FGDM, but will also promote solid practice in the U.S. and abroad. This publication covers topics such as: The FGDM Coordinator, Referral to FGDM, Preparation, Family Meetings, Follow-Up After Family Meetings, and Administrative Support. (April 2010)

    Guides from the States
    • California: County Protocols for Team Decision Making
      Examples of Team Decisionmaking (TDM) protocols from the California Family to Family sites were each created to meet the unique circumstances and nuances of their County.

    • Iowa

    • Maryland: Family Team Decision Making
      This issue brief from Voices for Maryland's Children describes the practice of family team decision-making and its status in Maryland.

    • Mississippi

      • Worker's Guide to Family Team Meetings
        This guide from the Division of Children and Family Services provides workers with information to help them plan, arrange, and facilitate family team meetings

      • Mississippi: Guide For Families And Community Partners to Family Centered County Conferences
        Mississippi implemented a family team conferencing model in 2001, which is referred to as the County Conference. The County Conference is a family conferencing approach to bring the family, caseworker, area social work supervisor, and involved community providers together to assess progress and make decisions necessary to achieve timely permanency. The County Conference does not replace nor substitute for the family team meetings held by the caseworker, but should serve to strengthen and support this practice with the family. This document includes five Practice Principles that serve as a framework for this work, as well as tips for planning and conducting the conferences.

    • North Carolina
      • Practice Guidelines for Family-Centered Meetings
        These practice guidelines are intended to supplement the North Carolina Division of Social Services overall policy for Child and Family Team Meetings (CFTs) and Shared Parenting Meetings (SPMs). Information is provided on the principles and purposes of family-centered meetings (FCMs), and the benefits of FCMs. Principles are then paired with specific applications, and the following five phases of FCMs are described: the social worker talks with the key family members about having a meeting, the social worker makes a referral, the worker prepares the family and other professionals for the meeting, a neutral individual facilitates the meeting or depending on the circumstances, sometimes the worker serves as facilitator, and the social worker follows up and monitors the service agreement as it is carried out. A list of issues that must be addressed during the preparation phase of a FCM is given and guidelines are explained for ensuring the safety of FCM participants. Finally, the roles of different participants, strategies for making sure children are heard at meetings, and the structure of FCM are addressed. A form for evaluating a FCM is attached.

      • Enhancing Child and Family Team Meetings
        This issue of Children's Services Practice Notes is a resource for agencies seeking to enhance and expand their use of child and family team meetings.

    • Washington:

    • Wisconsin:


    • Family Group Decision Making Models for Social Workers in the Child Welfare Setting
      This curriculum from the California Social Work Education Center introduces the Family Group Decision-Making (FGDM) model of working with families in child welfare and is based on a core belief that within families lies the wisdom to find solutions to protect their own children and resolve other issues of concern. In addition to lecture content, modules include instructional guides and suggestions, interactive exercises, topics for discussions, video and other resource suggestions, and a pre- and posttest instrument with answer sheet. An appendix of handouts, workshop evaluation form, references, and list of information sources and resources are included.

    • Family Team Meeting Training - Participant's Guide and Trainer's Guide Outline
      Curriculum materials from the Georgia Division of Family & Children Services.

    • Introduction to Family Group Decision Making, Parts I and II
      Part I of this training from the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program introduces the foundations of the FGDM practice and prepares participants to begin planning for implementation and participate successfully in FGDM. Part II is a three-day workshop to prepare participants to serve as coordinators, facilitators and other critical partners for the FGDM Process and give participants the opportunity to practice the skills needed to perform effectively in these roles.


    • Family Group Decision Making
      (January 2000)

    • Practice, Policy and Implementation: An International Annotated Bibliography of Family-Engagement Strategies in Child Welfare (Practice, Policy, and Implementation Focus)
      This searchable annotated bibliography from American Humane includes summaries of more than 60 peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed articles and reports pertaining to the practice of family group decision making (FGDM) and other family engagement approaches in child welfare and beyond. Literature reviewed for this bibliography covers a wide variety of topics, from the origins and development of FGDM practice, to the involvement of children in conferences, to the use of FGDM in efforts to reduce racial disproportionality and disparities in child welfare. This bibliography focuses on family engagement practice, policy and implementation literature. It is a living document and will be updated annually.

    • Family-Engagement Strategies in Child Welfare International Review: Annotated Bibliography (Research and Evaluation Focus)
      The studies reviewed in this bibliography from American Humane reveal the range and diversity of approaches to involve families in achieving good outcomes for their children. The studies vary in focus, purpose and methodology. The keyword search, therefore, enables the reader to identify reports that are relevant to their own practice or areas of interest and also allows the material to be grouped by categories such as country and field of practice. Family engagement strategies are not uniform -- this international annotated bibliography demonstrates the differences among countries and across cultures. The reader cannot, therefore, make assumptions that all reports or articles refer to similar processes. All the submissions, however, are concerned with exploring how children’s kinship and family networks can contribute to their well-being, and a significant number of the entries address family involvement in decision making from a rights-based perspective. This suggests that family engagement practices are not value-free; instead, they are often concerned with promoting the rights of families and the need to use family expertise. This basis for the services that are developed can sit at odds with traditional approaches to evaluation, which use progress measures that may not reflect the innovative intentions of family-engagement services. Developing responsive research and evaluation strategies and methods is therefore an emerging theme from this international review.


    • National Center on Family Group Decision Making
      In 1999, American Humane established the National Center on Family Group Decision Making with a mission to build community capacity to implement high-quality, effective FGDM processes that are philosophically congruent with the central values and beliefs of this approach. The Center offers a wide range of services, including training and technical assistance, annual conferences, and publications and videos.

    • Family Group Decision Making Project
      This website contains information about a FGDM project in Newfoundland and Labrador, a manual for corrdinators and communities, a bibliography and links to other FGDM sites and projects.

    • Team Decision-Making - Family to Family
      Team decision-making is one of the tools of Family to Family, the Annie E. Casey Foundation's initiative for rebuilding foster care. This site contains the initiative's tool for team decision-making (in English and Spanish) as well as numerous other resources on the subject.

    Last updated 10/7/13