Family Group Decision Making

Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) meetings create an opportunity for the family and their supports to come together to create a plan that will help everyone succeed long term with or without the Department's involvement. Families join with relatives, friends, and community members to develop a plan for ensuring that their children are cared for and protected from future harm in a manner that fits their culture and situation. It can be initiated by child welfare agencies whenever a critical decision about a child is required. A family engagement specialist, who is independent of the case, brings together the family group and agency personnel to create and carry out a plan to safeguard the children and other family members. FGDM allows the family group to lead decision making and the statutory authorities agree to support family group plans that adequately address agency concerns. FGDM actively seeks the collaboration and leadership of family groups in developing and implementing plans that support the safety, permanency, and well-being of their children.

FGDM Core Values

  • Every child has the right to be safe.
  • Families have strengths and can change.
  • Supporting families is better than controlling them.
  • Strengths are enhanced when they are acknowledged and encouraged.
  • Agencies can support families.
  • Families prefer options to advice.
  • Strengths are what ultimately resolve concerns.

  • What is an FGDM?
    It's an excellent opportunity for you to build a clear and effective plan for your family's success!
    It's a meeting for your family members and selected people involved with your family to help you develop a blueprint for success that is both realistic and workable. A family engagement specialist will be assigned to help you put together  your family meeting.

    It's a proven strategy for family success because you have shared experiences, trials and successes, you and your family's supporters know best what will work for your family - and what won't. An FGDM can empower your family, giving you the tools you need to develop a solid, working plan that addressees your family's critical concerns as well as those of the agency. It's your first step toward assembling the framework of a strong and positive future for your children and for yourself.

    Who comes to the meeting?
    You may suggest as many people as possible who may be sources of support to your children and you.  Your specialist can help you select who among these will be the most appropriate to attend the meeting. Out-of-state family members, friends, supports, and those who are providing services to your family and children can be meeting participants through the use of phone technology, if needed.

    Where will the meeting be held?

    Your family engagement specialist can help you choose a neutral environment where everyone participating feels safe and comfortable.

    How long will the meeting take?
    Each family and each set of circumstances is unique. Some families may require only one short meeting, others may require several short meetings, or even several longer meetings.  Again, individual circumstances and the family will determine how long the process will take.

    Will children participate?
    Because the FGDM process directly affects your children, they will be included in the meeting in some capacity. Your family engagement specialist will discuss with your children the best way they may be involved.  Your child's involvement may range from having them represented by names or pictures, having them write a letter, or having them attend and participate in all or part of the meeting.

    Before the meeting:
    You and your specialist will discuss the purpose of Family Group Decision Making and how it will support your family’s success. Together, you and your specialist will also discuss who should be invited to participate in the meeting among your family members, friends, supporters, and those who are providing services to your family and children. Your specialist will contact each proposed participant. They will describe the process and purpose of the meeting for them and prepare them to participate actively and effectively in the FGDM process.

    During the meeting:

    Your family engagement specialist will coordinate and facilitate the meeting.  The meeting begins with introductions, an explanation of the meeting guidelines and a statement of the meeting's purpose. Agency staff and other professional present information about their roles and relevance to your FGDM meeting.
    There is an opportunity for all participants to ask questions and to share information, thoughts and ideas.
    Your specialist will bring forth any additional information from missing parties or information that has been share and relevant to creating your plan.
    Your specialist will then give clear guidelines for family time and give you an opportunity for additional questions.

    Private Family Time is when you and your family will have time alone to discuss the information that you've heard, come to a decision and develop a plan.  Your specialist will be nearby and available for any additional questions you may have during your private family time.

    Plan Presentation
    The group comes back together, the plan is presented by the family, and the plan is reviewed and strengthened if necessary.

    Closure of the Meeting
    When the plan is adopted, next step will be outlined by the specialist.