Professional Development in FGDM

​The National Center on Family Group Decision Making's Training & Consultation Team has extensive practice and implementation experience with  in multiple meeting models and approaches including family group conferences, family team meetings, case planning conferences, family unity meetings and youth conferences to name a few. 

The team has served as supervisors, coordinators, facilitators, training and coaching masters, practitioners, and program implementers in FGDM. 

Guidelines for Family Group Decision Making in Child Welfare

The ABC’s of FGDM: Family Group Decision Making Fundamentals

This one-day training is designed to give agencies and community members a concise introduction to family group decision making. This class is often offered in conjunction with An Introductory Overview of Family Group Decision Making.

At the end of this training participants will be able to:

  • Describe the basics of family group decision making, including history, philosophy, values and the process
  • Explain the role and responsibilities of service providers throughout the process
  • Describe the significance of the contribution from service providers and community partners to the assembled family group.

An Introductory Training of Family Group Decision Making

This highly interactive thought provoking three-day, comprehensive training is for communities or agencies considering implementing FGDM. This training will guide participants in understanding the foundational philosophies, values and core elements of FGDM. Participants will engage in simulation activities while applying values and core elements in FGDM practice. Participants will learn how to engage families and partners in the process and how FGDM can mitigate the imbalance of power between systems and families through widening the family network and promoting a family driven, system partnered process.

At the end of this training participants will be able to:

  • Articulate the relationship between values and practice
  • Distinguish the characteristics of a system driven process from a family driven process
  • Describe the phases and stages of FGDM
  • Demonstrate how to conduct key elements of the FGDM process, including preparation, the family conference and follow-up activities
  • Explain how to include the voices of children and others who are unable to, or choose not to, attend a family meeting in person
  • Apply strength-based language and engagement strategies to encourage agency and family participation and widen families’ circles of support

Preparation is Crucial: The Nuances to Coordinating Family Conferences

This skills based training will teach participants to prepare parents, family members, and community partners and agencies for their roles in the FGDM process. Through in-depth preparation, explicit attention is paid to the purpose of gathering the group for a meeting and positioning families to lead with a clear set of goals. Participants will learn about the key elements of preparation to include the sharing of information, achieving buy-in, building a climate of physical and emotional safety, understanding the family’s culture and learning about strategies to widen the family’s network of supports. In this two-day training, participants will engage in practice activities to support skill development, foster the transfer of learning and assist FGDM coordinators and facilitators develop collaborative relationships with parents, family members and community partners.

At the end of this training participants will be able to:

  • Explain the significance of preparation in FGDM
  • Describe and model preparation practice principles
  • Examine the importance of self in the preparation process
  • Explain how to reflect the families culture, values, traditions and rituals throughout the process
  • Demonstrate how to coordinate the interests and needs of meeting participants to achieve buy in, widen the circle and create a safe environment for the meeting
  • Demonstrate how to prepare children and youth for inclusion in the process

Building a Safety Net: Using FGDM to Address Family Violence

Research shows that FGDM can be a safe and effective process when issues of domestic violence are present. However, sometimes communities struggle with FGDM processes in these difficult cases. This two-day training explores issues of power in family violence; prepares coordinators to create safety measures for all participants before, during and after the family meeting; and readies community stakeholders to advance FGDM as a way to secure support and safety and end family violence.

At the end of this training participants will be able to:

  • Explain how FGDM can be used when family violence is present
  • Conduct preparation for the FGDM while also assessing for safety and the needs of all participants, especially those of the victims and offenders
  • Describe how family violence creates power imbalances in families and incorporate this understanding in family engagement strategies
  • Give examples of when it may not be safe to move forward with the meeting
  • Demonstrate how to navigate the special circumstances involved with child witnesses and victim participation in FGDM to secure emotional and physical safety

Substance Abuse and FGDM: Creating Helpful, Hopeful and Healing Opportunities for Families

The abusive use of drugs and alcohol in society has a major impact on the emotional, physical and financial health of families and communities across the country. Many of these families struggle with what to do and how to do what needs to be done. This one-day training will provide coordinators with a workable knowledge of substance abuse and family dynamics to enable coordinators to safely and effectively engage families while simultaneously safeguarding the FGDM process. Coordinators will understand how to prepare families for creating plans and identifying supports to help address this very challenging issue. Participants will be encouraged to think creatively to accommodate specific family circumstances and needs.

At the end of this training participants will be able to:

  • Identify the basic dynamics of substance abuse and their interplay with FGDM values and processes
  • Describe strategies to shepherd the process forward, particularly when enabling behavior is present.
  • Assess an individual family’s needs so that specialized presenters may be invited to address the specific types of substance abuse affecting the family

A Private Matter: Mental Health and FGDM

Mental illness can often be that ‘family secret’ no one wants to discuss outside of the family. Caretaking family members may feel isolated and overwhelmed. FGDM can provide an opportunity for families to maintain a sense of privacy but also widen the network of available supports within their family, thus retaining some of their privacy and creating a less isolating environment to address the mental health challenges in the family. Participants of this training will learn how FGDM can create this opportunity for families through coordination that focuses on their specific needs. This one-day training will provide coordinators with the knowledge and skills needed to accommodate specific family circumstances and needs.

At the end of this training participants will be able to:

  • Describe common features of mental illness and its impact on families.
  • Describe strategies to address challenges that could prevent the meeting from moving forward.
  • Assess an individual family’s needs so that specialized presenters may be invited to address the specific types of mental health concerns affecting the family

Involving Children in the FGDM Process

When decisions need to be made about the care and well-being of children; the best source for those decisions lie within the family group to include parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, fictive kin and whomever else comprises the family’s natural network of support. A mantra in FGDM is “nothing about me without me”. The question is not if children will be included but how they will be included in the process. This two-day training challenges the idea that children should not be involved in the planning around decisions directly impacting them. Participants will learn strategies to successfully involve children in FGDM processes with respect to the child’s emotional and development needs and abilities and the family’s culture.

At the end of this training participants will be able to:

  • Explain the importance of child inclusion in the FGDM processes
  • Identify strategies to support child inclusion while respecting the needs of the child and the family
  • Demonstrate how to apply the philosophy of and strategies to include children during each stage of the FGDM process
  • Describe the role of support people to children and how to prepare support persons for their role

“But What If They Don’t Get Along”: Transforming Conflict into Partnership in the FGDM Process

A common concern when implementing FGDM is the concern that family conflict will erupt, disagreements between maternal and paternal sides of the family will occur or some family members may hinder or derail the FGDM process. There are also times when systems involved with the family are in conflict. This two-day training will help coordinators transform conflict into partnership for the families they serve. Participants will learn about the potential root causes of conflict and strategies to address the challenges that hinder moving forward with the meeting.

At the end of this training participants will be able to:

  • Describe conflict styles and types and how these may manifest in the FGDM process
  • Demonstrate the use of strength-based language to help families create solutions and build partnerships to address the conflict
  • Formulate a plan to manage potential conflict before, during and after the conference
  • Demonstrate skills that encourage family to construct their own strategies for ongoing individual partnership building opportunities while decreasing reliance on professional involvement

FGDM has been a part of practice for more agencies and organizations in the U.S., Canada and other countries worldwide for almost two decades. What this means is that there are many seasoned practitioners in the FGDM and other family involvement strategies community in need of advanced knowledge, skill development and practice improvement learning opportunities. The National Center is well prepared to provide advanced trainings across a variety of topic areas. Some sample areas could include:

  • Organizational planning and implementation
  • Understanding and managing complex situations and relationships
  • Coordinator self-renewal
  • The role of leadership in FGDM practice
  • Facilitating Plan Presentation
  • Cultural Collisions in FGDM
  • Addressing the Challenges of Language in FGDM
  • Youth and FGDM (transition plans, aging out, permanency, etc.)
  • Addressing Disproportionality and Disparities using FGDM
  • Supervising FGDM Coordinators/Facilitators

Coaching is an essential component of our FGDM services. The practice shifts that coordinators, facilitators and other practitioners integrate into their daily work with families and other service providers depends on the support and reinforcement they receive from their teams, their direct supervisor and the families who they are engaging in a new way. Coaching will enhance implementation and continued growth of FGDM practice through providing increased opportunities for the transfer of learning to occur amongst coordinators, facilitators and others on an ongoing basis. Our Coaching services involve facilitating the exploration of needs, motivations, skills and thought processes to assist the individual or small group in transferring in-class room learning to everyday practice. Additionally, coaching involves using questioning techniques to facilitate these thought processes related to practice in order to identify solutions and actions to improve practice. The conversation between The Kempe Center, the coach and your sites FGDM team prior to a coaching visit will determine how and the nature of the coaching delivery that your site receives.

Delivery options include:

  • In-person
  • Video Conferencing/Skype
  • Teleconference

Examples of coaching options:

Direct observation of preparation and practice components for FGDM. The coach will work directly with the FGDM coordinator/facilitator regarding preparation for and observation of some elements of the FGDM preparation and engagement process. At the conclusion of the direct observation, each site can decide how they want the feedback process to occur. Feedback processes can be structured multiple ways, including: 1) one-on-one consultation with different members of the team who participated in the process and 2) group feedback process with FGDM team members.

Case Consultation. The coach could consult with individual FGDM coordinators/facilitators, other site caseworkers/supervisors or other identified staff, about individual cases that presented challenges. The cases could either be shared ahead of time with the coach or while the coach is in the region. This could be done as group or peer consultation, or individually. FGDM coordinator/facilitator one-on-one consultation. The coach could provide one-on-one consultation with the FGDM coordinator/facilitator regarding their practice, team and field experiences. This could also be a way to help support self-evaluation activities.

Supervisor consultation. The coach could provide one-on-one or supervisor team consultation with FGDM supervisors regarding their multiple experiences. This could also be a way to help support self-evaluation and reflective activities to help gain insight into their experiences and thoughts related to FGDM and supervisory challenges. In addition, these groups will help highlight strategies to support coordinators/facilitators comfort and skill enhancement with their roles in the FGDM process.

Peer consultation. Groups could be organized to discuss common challenges, successes, lessons learned, or areas for growth. The coach will support this occurrence and help create a structure for this type of group within a site or across counties as determined by each site. The facilitated peer case consultation group could be used to teach concepts such has working with resistance, increasing buy-in, and how to handle challenging situations such as domestic violence, mental health or child inclusion or in which the supervisors or coordinators/facilitators struggle with balancing model fidelity and best practice with agency standards and policies.

Technical Assistance and Consultation on a variety of implementation growth issues. These may include: looking at staffing plans; process mapping, local policy, and procedures revisions; modifications to inter-agency protocols; quality assurance plans; orientations for supervisors and managers; impact on data collection processes; systems interfaces; use of assessment, case planning, and decision support tools; and services network development/utilization. Technical assistance and Consultation can take the form of in-person visits, email or phone correspondence, case flow and procedural development, and document review. For example, sites may find it beneficial to receive help in configuring their case flow process between the various FGDM models being implemented.

Since FGDM came to the United States, it has primarily been utilized in the Child Welfare community to address child welfare issues. The philosophical foundations of FGDM make this practice useful across many disciplines in which families need to create plans and make critical decisions for vulnerable family members.

We are committed to broadening FGDM implementation so that many more organizations, communities and families have the opportunity to engage in a process that has shown to be successful and transformative for families, agencies and communities. The National Center team can provide implementation, consultation and trainings to the following groups:

  • Schools (i.e. parental, student and school engagement; bullying behavior)
  • Juvenile Justice & Restorative Practices(i.e. community resolution, youth accountability, victim reparation)
  • Faith Based Organizations (i.e. family issues, building supports and challenges)
  • Medical Centers (i.e. healthcare planning)
  • Prisons (i.e. reintegration of incarcerated parents)
  • Adult Care Centers (i.e. care planning, transition planning, etc.)
  • Community-based Organizations