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The use of Family Group Conferencing in Foster Care and Institutional Care Paper presented at Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies Conference. 18.

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Presentation on theme: "The use of Family Group Conferencing in Foster Care and Institutional Care Paper presented at Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies Conference. 18."— Presentation transcript:

1 The use of Family Group Conferencing in Foster Care and Institutional Care Paper presented at Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies Conference August, 2008 Sydney Patricia Kiely

2 About UnitingCare Burnside Innovative and quality programs to break the cycle of disadvantage 80 programs which operate in NSW include:  early intervention  family support programs  home visiting  fathers’ support services  youth programs  out-of-home care programs including foster care and residential care.

3 Family Work Program  Family and children’s counselling  Group programs for children and families  Consultation and support for other agencies  Professional training  Family Group Conferencing  Develop resource materials for health and welfare workers such as group work manuals, posters etc.

4 Children’s Experience of Meetings  Meeting too large  Children feeling they could not talk freely  Not liking to be in the spotlight  Feeling ignored  Finding the proceedings boring  Being unable to trust those at the meeting

5 Family Group Conferencing Pre-conference preparation Conference - Information Sharing - Private family time - Discussion and ratification of the Action Plan Post conference Review meetings

6 The use of Family Group Conferencing in Foster Care and Institutional Care  The needs of children in alternate care  The opportunities that Family Group Conferencing can offer children, young people, families and carers  Case studies

7 The Needs of Children in Alternate Care  Connections with others  Emotional needs  Power and agency to exercise choice and make decisions

8 The opportunities that Family Group Conferences can offer children, young people, families and carers 1. Care planning at the point of entry into care Maintaining contact Resolution for the parents Participate in decisions Children have adequate information More family ties can be maintained The biological family might be able to provide some supports and resources Connections with siblings Restoration planning Provides evidence about whether parents are ready to have their child restored More integrated approach to planning

9 2. Case Planning at critical points throughout their Journey in Alternate Care  Everyone has a voice at critical points along the care continuum  Access to appropriate supports  Non adversarial approach for discussing issues  Focus on positive and healthy functioning  Strengths based approach  Voice of the child heard  Changes in case plan  Advocates  Action Plan is clear and contains factual information

10 3. Planning for Independent Living when Young People leave Care  Reconnect with family  Establish themselves outside care  Continue support they need  Modify entrenched patterns of relating  Managing pregnancy in aftercare  Contacting the father of the baby and his family  Carers resolving issues  Maintain contact with foster cares or residential care workers

11 Case Studies The Family Group Conference process changed the situation  The parents became more co operative with the foster care agency  The parents stopped their threatening phone calls  They voluntarily stopped having contact with their son  They agreed to go at their son’s pace  Police no longer required  Changed the dynamics of the case conferences, made them safer  More functional family members played a positive part in the changes in the family

12 Case Study 1: Working With the Biological Family The Family Group Conference process changed the situation  It allowed the parents to understand their child’s perspective  Slow down the process of contact and restoration  Develop strategies to make it easier for the child  The carers were able to ‘come on board’ with the process  Everyone participated, was heard and respected  Acknowledged the goals of the contract  Developed the plan together  Incorporated the family’s ideas

13 Case Study 1. Action Plan Questions:  What steps will each of us take to encourage Sam to participate in positive and safe contact visits with Amy and William?  How will we know when Sam is ready to have contact with Amy and William?  What are some ways that we can ensure that the contact feels safe and positive for Sam?  What are our realistic short-term and long-term goals for contact between Sam, Amy and William?  What is the first step that we will each take to start this process?

14 Case Study 2. Restoration Plan The Family Group Conference allowed them to make viable plans to remain drug free by:  Attending D&A counselling  Regular urinanalysis  Attending parenting classes  Having regular contact with their children

15 Case Study 2. Restoration plan cont’d … The Action Plan set out clearly: What was expected What the statutory needed to assess adequate progress It held the Statutory and other workers to account for their promises Presented what was not possible It also allowed the child to retain ties to her wider family

16 Case Study 3.  The Family Group Conference was called to plan the restoration  Brought the wider family together  Enabled the family to deal with Gina’s sexual abuse  The whole family offered support to care for the children  Statutory service offered establishment funds to enable Gina to have the children returned  The family showed the strength of their commitment to the children  The family reclaimed their power as a family.

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