Magazine article Policy & Practice

Fathers Can Help

Magazine article Policy & Practice

Fathers Can Help

Article excerpt

For decades, the child welfare system has focused its intervention on mothers. One way to involve fathers, however, and build family responsibility for protecting children is family group decision-making (FGDM), which is being implemented in more than 150 communities across the country. But the questions remain: If it is built, will they come and will it make a difference?

Although research and evaluation of FGDM is in its infancy, a few evaluations have specifically looked at father and paternal relation involvement in creating plans for children. The findings are divided into three broad categories: implementation, process indicators, and outcome indicators. Here's what has been learned thus far:

Implementation

* Initial implementation efforts require careful planning and time,

* Strategic alliances and community partnerships help support and identify shared resources and skills that contribute to the implementation of FGDM,

* FGDM can be used safely and successfully with families that have multiple and high challenges, and

* The coordinator plays a critical role in the family group conference process.

Process Indicators

* Preparation of participants is crucial to a successful conference;

* Family members come when invited, even though the conference can be stressful;

* Families can develop plans that are seen to be safe;

* Family group conference plans blend requests for formal services with family-delivered supports;

* Private family time is embraced as an essential element of the family group conference process;

* Family members perceive they have considerable voice and decision-making authority in family group conference; and

* Family group conferencing provides cost neutrality or savings. …

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