Family group conferences bring a family together with their relatives, friends, and other supportive people in their lives to develop a plan to support a young adult in the family who is facing challenges or difficulties.
In the program, families are empowered to create their own plans to address problems and support the youth taking part in the program. Outside agencies (such as the school system, the Juvenile Court, or others) may provide information on things that the family should address in their plan, but it is up to the family to decide the best way to support the youth in achieving their goals.
What Happens in a Conference
Volunteer facilitators will prepare family members for the family group conference by explaining the goals of the family group conference, describing the steps and stages of the family meeting, and exploring who should attend the conference. Once everyone has come together, the facilitators will guide the family meeting in a transparent, honest, and respectful way. Family group conferences provide a structure for talking that helps families create realistic plans to support the youth in addressing any issues of concern. The stages of the family conference are as follows:
- Facilitators welcome everyone to the conference and people introduce themselves.
- Facilitators invite family members to share what they see as strengths of the parent and of the family.
- Facilitators invite family members to share any concerns they have for the teen.
- Facilitators will talk about what issues should be addressed in the family plan, and family members will have a chance to ask questions and get more information.
- The facilitators will leave the room so the family can have “private family time” to discuss the issues and concerns and make a plan to support the youth in managing the issues of concern. Families have as much time as they need to make their plan.
- When the family is ready, they will invite the facilitators back into the room to review their plan and make sure it addresses all the relevant concerns.
Family group conferences helps strengthen a family’s support network while putting the family at the center of decision-making as they create plans that fit their unique circumstances. These family group conferences are offered by the Center for Dispute Resolution and facilitated by trained volunteers.
Request a Conference
If you know a youth who could benefit from Family Group Conferencing services, please contact the CDR at 417-836-8831.