1What type of families should be referred for FGDM/CRR?
There is no certain type of family that benefits most from a FGDM/CRR meeting. However, the following key questions should be considered when deciding if either of the meeting models are appropriate for a family: -Is there a decision that needs to be made? -Can a meeting be safely held? -Are there enough family members to constitute a group (4+ adults outside of the parents/legal guardians)? -Is there a well-defined, open-ended purpose for the meeting and no pre-set plan? While cases that involve child sexual abuse and domestic violence require more comprehensive preparation, even tough issues like these can be addressed safely at a meeting with positive outcomes
2What kinds of family decisions are discussed in my family meeting?
- There can be many different purposes for holding a family meeting. However, the main goal is to support the safety, permanency, and well-being of children. Examples of FGDM/CRR goals may include developing a family plan to:
- Help children remain in the home, decrease parent/child conflict, improve school attendance and increase the relationship between the children and their family supports.
- Help keep a teen sober upon return from treatment.
- Identify family respite care options for the children and support for Mom.
- Assist Dad, who suffers from mental health issues, to keep the home safe for the children.
- Keep the child out of the middle of the parent’s conflict and divorce.
- Support the child in gaining improved health (accessing and attending necessary medical assistance for specialty needs).
- Support Mom and/or Dad as the children return home following foster care.
- Provide short/long term alternative options for the child’s stability
3What is the role of the coordinator and facilitator?
- The role of the coordinator is to call and prepare all participants for the FGDM/CRR meeting, including the extended family members, community support people, and professionals/service providers. They are also responsible for addressing any safety issues that may impact the process and helping family members create a plan that will help them meet the needs of their children.
- The facilitator, who has had no prior involvement with the family, conducts the meeting. Since they are considered a neutral party, the facilitator has no vote or say in accepting or altering the family plan. The coordinator is also responsible for distributing final copies of the plan after the meeting.
4What is the role of the service providers during the meeting?
- The service providers are responsible for providing key child welfare information to the family group. The service provider that made the referral summarizes the critical incident or decision point that led to the FGDM/CRR meeting and outlines the major safety and permanency issues that the family’s plan must address (if applicable).
- Other service providers contribute information to the discussion that helps the family create a plan, such as the strengths of the family, their concerns for the children, and resources for the family needs. Family members have the opportunity to ask questions and get clarification from the service providers.
- After the family creates their plan in what is called “Private Family Time,” the service providers can help the family finalize and strengthen their plan to ensure all requirements are met (if applicable) and that the plan meets the safety and permanency needs of the children per state standards.
5Who does the coordinator contact and what information is shared before the FGDM/CRR meeting?
- The coordinator first talks with the parents/legal guardians to seek their agreement to contact individuals within their extended family/community and to share specific information about what led to the need for a FGDM/CRR meeting.
- The parents/legal guardians will be asked to “widen the circle” to provide a network of support people to brin to the meeting. These members can range from biological to chosen family.
- There is no expectation or exclusion of who can be a support to the family or children. Tools such as a family tree, connectogram, or historical mobility mapping.
- The coordinator shares only information that is relevant to provide participants with a reasonable understanding of why a meeting is being held and to confirm their willingness to participate. Specific information sharing is left to the service providers and family members at the meeting and will be relayed this way to the family if they inquire during the coordinator’s outreach phase.
6Who should I invite to the meeting?
- The people typically considered to attend the FGDM/CRR meeting include:
- Children or young people whose safety and well-being are at stake (if age appropriate)
- Parents, guardians, and/or caregivers of the children/young people
- Members of the children/young person’s extended family
- Any other person identified by the family as a support person for the children/young people (e.g., family friend, support person, neighbor, minister, therapist, etc.)
- Service provider who referred the family
- Guardian ad Litem (if applicable)
- Other service providers that the children/young people or parents have been involved with that could provide information and support
- Any person who has supplemental information that meeting participants need to make decisions (e.g., substance abuse counselor, mental health professional, domestic violence counselor, etc.).
7What information is shared at my meeting?
- After introductions are made and the purpose of the FGDM/CRR meeting purpose is clarified, the facilitator invites participants to discuss the strengths of the family. Participants share things that are going well within the family, identify positive supports for the children/family, and discuss any other factors that reveal the family’s ability to provide safety, care, and protection for the children. Next, the facilitator invites a discussion about the concerns of the children/family. The last discussion topic focuses on needs for the family to develop solutions to in their planning; providers may offer information on the services their agency provides or other programs they know of in the community, and other participants suggest similar ideas and offer informal support.
- The family is then given “Private Family Time” to create their family plan to address identified needs and concerns (i.e., Who will do what and when?). The professionals do not participate in this portion of the meeting. Once the family plan has been developed, the professionals are invited to re-join the family as they review and finalize the plan details. After the meeting, the coordinator documents the family plan in the RTQ Academy document and mails it to each meeting participant.
8Do children and young people participate in the FGDM/CRR meeting?
- Typically, children under the age of 12 do not attend to participate in the FGDM/CRR meeting. The facilitator may ask the children and parents if the children would like to share information through a written statement or other form of communication (drawing, song, poem, etc) but ultimately this is up to the parents and the children.
- Children who are 12 years of age and older may choose to attend the family meeting. It is the role of the facilitator to make sure the children understand the purpose of the meeting and the roles of those invited to participate in the meeting. Special attention is taken to protect the children’s safety, emotional and physical health, and comfort during the meeting.
9Are individuals sometimes excluded from the FGDM/CRR meeting?
- It is the role of the coordinator to ask information about whose participation in the meeting might compromise the emotional and physical safety of other meeting participants (DV perpetrators, PFA circumstances, CA or SA allegations, etc).
- While the coordinator rarely excludes individuals from meetings, it is his/her responsibility, along with feedback from the family group, to finalize these difficult decisions. Excluding someone from being physically present at the FGDM/CRR meeting does not mean the person’s voice is not heard.
- The facilitator will make every effort to gather the person’s perspective (e.g., via letter or video) and share it with the participants. With permission from the family group, the coordinator may also advise the absent person of the meeting outcome.
10What happens if the family can’t agree on a plan?
- While this is a rare occurrence, there are instances when family members do not agree on the best course of action for their child(ren). The family members have the opportunity to present their opinions to the service providers who did not participate in the plan development during private family time. After listening to all sides and answering any questions, the service providers encourage family members that they have two options: (1) a decision can be made by the service provider who referred the family on which plan best adheres to their state standards; or (2) if the case is court-involved, various options can be presented to the judge for a decision.
11Is a FGDM/CRR meeting a one-time process?
- The family creates a plan and a back-up plan (if necessary) at the FGDM/CRR meeting. If the initial plan is not implemented or followed, the family can move to employing the back-up plan at the follow up stage.
- Follow-up meetings are scheduled at the 30 day and 6-month mark after the meeting’s completion. These processes occur to ensure that the plan continues to be relevant, current and achievable, because child welfare is not a one-time scenario but an ongoing, active process. Follow-up efforts provide an opportunity to:
- Remain focused on progress, achievements, unresolved issues/concerns, new information, and additional resources, which will result in the plan being updated and revised as needed.
- Ensure proactive communication between services and family group representatives to support the successful implementation of the plan.
12How long are FGDM/CRR meetings?
- Typically, these meetings last about 1.5-3 hours. Overall, the length of the meeting is guided by the discussion of the group. The facilitator guides the group through each phase of the meeting and helps keep the discussion focused, productive, and as timely as possible.
13Where are FGDM/CRR meetings typically held?
- The coordinator identifies a venue that is perceived as neutral and non-threatening by all participants. Things considered in selecting a venue include accessibility to a private space, transportation, restrooms, and internet accessibility (for those participating and not able to attend due to proximity); size of space; and accommodations for the handicapped. The referring agency may be used as a venue, but locations such as libraries, community rooms, and churches are most used.
- In the current COVID-19 climate within person restrictions and precautions, RTQ Academy conducts all FGDM/CRR Meetings via Zoom to enable access for all participants no matter their proximity to the family or transportation options. This process minimally requires a phone line and is most effectively used when all family have internet access and can join via smartphone or computer by way of the video chat option.
14Is there help with childcare and/or transportation?
- If you have any barriers to getting your family together for the meeting, the referring service provider and RTQ Academy will ensure there are extra hands to provide transportation and look after the children during the meeting so everyone can fully engage and participate.
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