Daybreak, the leading FGC provider for children in the U.K., was one of the earliest adopters of the approach, and also pioneered family group conferences for vulnerable adults who have disabilities or who have experienced elder abuse.
As an independent agency organizing and coordinating the FGCs, Daybreak assists families in confronting the awesome power of the state, giving the lifeworld more influence in system decisions.
An African-American grandfather from Los Angeles explained that he didn’t like social workers, “because of my past experiences with the Department of Children and Family Services and the way that they operate. In our community they’re not very well-liked, you know, social workers and the whole bit.”
After experiencing an FGC, the grandfather asked, ‘Who died in the Department of Children and Family Services and let them do something so terrific?’
In the United States and Canada, FGC is usually called family group decision-making (FGDM).
The story of the African American grandfather is from Family Voices, an 18-minute video with families from Pennsylvania and California who participated in an FGDM meeting for themselves or a family member.
In my home state of Pennsylvania, nearly half of its 67 counties have actively implemented FGDMs, signaling “a significant shift in how families are engaged in decision-making to resolve concerns.”
A review of research by the American Humane Association reported that plans developed by FGDM in child protection “are more likely to keep children safe, result in more permanent placements, decrease the need for foster care, maintain family bonds and increase family well-being…for even the most challenging child welfare situations, including neglect, domestic violence, substance abuse and sexual and physical abuse” (Merkel-Holguin, 2005).