Cirque Meadows by Adam Johnson
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Family Group Conferencing (FCG)

family group

Partnering Together with Families to Protect & Provide for Children and Youth

The purpose of Family Group Conferencing is to establish plans that provide for the safety and permanency needs of children and youth. This is an opportunity for families to build on their strengths and plan for their children's future.

The Meeting

The meeting consists of three parts.

Part 1
All participants are present and included in this part of the meeting. This is the information sharing and clarification segment of the meeting and a time to answer any other questions which may arise.

Part 2
This is the family's private time to meet and decide on a plan. Only the family is in the meeting at this time with the facilitator and caseworker available to answer any questions.

Part 3
Now the family presents their plan and feedback is provided as necessary. Finally an agreement is reached about how to best meet the child's/youth's needs.

The Family Plan

When an agreement is reached by the participants it is written into a document called the "Family Plan." This document will be sent out to all participants. This will contain a primary plan and an alternative plan for the child in case the primary plan does not work out. It should also include the following:

  • The commitments of the parents and other family members.
  • The commitments and expectations of the service providers.
  • Time lines for carrying out the Family Plan.
  • The importance of following through with the family plan.
  • A schedule of future meetings if needed.

Who Participates

  • Parents, grandparents, and any other family members, who have had significant, direct contact with the child. This may include: aunts, uncles and cousins or other persons identified by the family and the referring worker.
  • Non related persons who are considered to be "family".
  • Family members who did not have direct contact should also be considered.
  • Children may attend in some instances. A support person from their family or other person close to the child/youth is often a good idea. The child may choose to not attend. If a child does not attend, a picture of the child is brought to the meeting.
  • Community persons such as neighbors, ministers, school officials, and social service persons may also be invited to collaborate with the family.
  • Some persons may not be able to attend due to distance, illness or other circumstances. In these cases they may submit a letter of recommendation for the child /youth or arrangements may be made to use speaker phone.
  • Family Members and others may be excluded from the meeting if they might bring harm to any other participant.


Participants: Each participant is contacted by the facilitator and they may identify other persons who should attend the meeting. Parents or legal guardians of the child/youth will be informed of all potential participants. The safety of every person attending the family group decision making meeting is critical. After the purpose of the meeting has been discussed with the family and the Facilitator, a time and place for the meeting will be set.

Special needs of participants for language interpreters, building access for persons with disabilities, or alternative format materials should be discussed at this point.

Food is a traditional element of family gatherings. Family members promote this tradition by bringing food to share with each other.

Process: Questions about the meeting process can be discussed with the Facilitator prior to the meeting. The Facilitator can answer any questions about how to proceed and will encourage each participant to speak up for the needs of each child. The purpose of this meeting is to focus on the needs of the child/youth.

Other types of Family Group Conferences

Because every family is unique, there may be occasions when a different meeting format is appropriate. Family Group Conferencing is for the family and offers the flexibility to meet each family's needs.

Contact Family Group Conferencing Program

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