A Sacred Family Circle: A Family Group Conferencing Model

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Brown, I., Chaze. F., Fuchs, D., Lafrance, J., McKay, S., & Thomas Prokop, S. (Eds.). Putting a Human Face on Child Welfare: Voices from the Prairie. Prairie Child Welfare Consortium / Centre of Excellence for Child Welfare: pp. 161-188.

This chapter explores Family Group Conferencing (FGC) as an effective way of working with Aboriginal children and families involved with Child Protection Services. FGC offers a collaborative dispute resolution process, which empowers families to make and implement decisions regarding the care and protection of children experiencing maltreatment, or at risk of abuse. FGC is a circle process, facilitated by a third neutral party and frequently, at the request of the family, an Elder is present. Once a referral is made, a community facilitator begins to meet with the family, the child(ren), extended kin, and members of the community who are interested in the well-being of the family to plan the initial conference. At the conference a permanency plan is developed by the family, whereby the child is reunified with the family or placed with alternative caregivers. The central feature underscoring this model is that it serves to strengthen and re-connect the familial and community relationships that encircle the child. This powerful process engages the family system to take the lead in problem identification and resolution. Key family members then work in partnership with professional services, and also have an option to incorporate traditional cultural and spiritual practices in their efforts to restore balance and harmony, and break the cycle of intergenerational abuse.

Canadian CW research
Book chapter