FGDM recognizes the importance of involving family groups in decision making about children (ages 0 – 17) who need protection or care, and it can be initiated by child welfare agencies whenever a critical decision about a child is required. In FGDM, a trained coordinator who is independent of the case brings together the family group and the agency personnel to create and carry out a plan to safeguard children and other family members. FGDM then positions the family group to lead decision making, and the statutory authorities agree to support family group plans that adequately address agency concerns. The statutory authorities also organize service providers from governmental and non-governmental agencies to access resources for implementing the plans. FGDM is not a conflict-resolution approach, therapeutic intervention or a forum for ratifying professionally crafted decisions. Rather, FGDM processes actively seek the collaboration and leadership of family groups in crafting and implementing plans that support the safety, permanency and well-being of their children.

Typically, the initial “family group” meeting averages 3.5 hours, but coordinators typically spend many hours before that meeting preparing all family and service provider participants to attend. The duration of the program is based on the needs of the family. Sometimes follow-up meetings are scheduled to ensure adherence to the plan or revise the plan. Family group should meet as often as necessary to ensure the plan is achieving its goals. FGDM can be delivered in the family home, community daily living center, community agency, or school. FGDM has materials available in English, French, Inuktitut, and Spanish.

Position family groups to lead decision-making processes with the support and resources of public agencies.