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Topics: Family, Child abuse, Extended family Pages: 37 (12806 words) Published: August 19, 2013
Family group conferencing in a child welfare context – A review of the literature

Literature review

Family group conferencing in a child welfare context

Author
Dr Leone Huntsman
Produced by
Centre for Parenting & Research Research, Funding & Business Analysis Division NSW Department of Community Services 4-6 Cavill Avenue Ashfield NSW 2131 Phone (02) 9716 2222 July 2006
ISBN 1 74190 0107
www.community.nsw.gov.au
[->0]

Contents

Executive summaryii
1.Introduction1
1.1What is family group conferencing?1
1.2Aim and scope of this review1
2.The family group conferencing model2
2.1History2
2.2The basic model2
2.3Variations on the basic model3
3.Key themes in the literature5
3.1Suitability of family group conferencing5
Types of cases suitable for FGC 5 Suitability for culturally diverse and indigenous communities6 3.2Roles and attitudes of participants7
Family8
Children and young people9
Professionals10
3.3Outcomes and long-term effects11
Agreeing on and implementing plans11
Placement of children and young people with extended family12 Ongoing reporting and re-referral12
3.4Overall effectiveness of family group conferencing13
Positive aspects13
Negative aspects13
Lack of research evidence14
4.Implications for child protection policy and practice15
Statutory responsibilities of child protection agencies15
Family attitudes to child protection agencies15
Cost-effectiveness16
A mandate for FGC?16
A systemic approach to FGC17
5.Suggestions for future research18
Appendix 19
References21
i

Executive summary
Family group conferencing (FGC) is a method of resolving, or attempting to resolve, family issues in relation to child protection. It brings together the family, the child and professionals to meet and develop a plan for future action. FGC began in New Zealand in the late 1980s, growing out of Maori cultural practice, and spread to many countries across the world through the 1990s. Its use in Australia is now legally supported in a number of states, but it has not become a part of mainstream practice among most child protection agencies. Review of the literature

After an initial explanation of the basic FGC model and some of its variants, this review looks at the considerable body of literature on FGC that has developed since the early 1990s. The aim of the review is to synthesise the available literature with a view to commenting on its use by child protection authorities in New South Wales, and to assess the need for further research in this field. Four major areas of study are outlined in the review:

1.Suitability of FGC. Some studies examine the types of cases that are suitable for referral to FGC. For example, use of FGC in some cases involving sexual abuse has been found by some to work well. Other studies have examined the suitability of FGC for Indigenous and other communities. It was found that some Indigenous communities in Australian have responded well but that considerable preparatory work is required if positive outcomes are to be achieved. 2.Roles and attitudes of participants. The three sets of participants in FGC are the family, the child or young person and child protection professionals. Studies have found that family members generally have a positive response to FGC, and professionals also feel positively towards it but are often not satisfied with its longer-term outcomes. Some researchers fear, however, that children are not satisfied with their role in FGC and are not sufficiently central to the process. 3.Outcomes and long-term effects. While there is a lack of reliable long-term studies on FGC, some consistent points are raised in the literature: while developing a plan of action at a conference is usually a successful process, implementation of plans is less so; FGC tends to lead to increased placement of children with extended family members, and that such...

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