Family Group Conferencing

Family Group Conferencing is an innovative model being implemented in Dauphin County as well as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that encourages system reform in working with children and their families. The model expands the involvement of immediate family members, extended kin, support persons and communities in planning for child safety, permanence and well-being. The model is helpful in: increasing safety for children and families, engaging families and communities in the helping process, resolving concerns, strengthening families, building independence, creating an attitude of hope for families and helping professionals and avoiding worker burnout.
Mission & Purpose

Dauphin County's Family Group Conferencing practice and philosophy is a strength-based, family-centered, child-focused and culturally sensitive approach. It is based on the belief that the best care, planning and protection for youth and children can be achieved when the positive aspects and strengths of the families are aligned with community and agency support systems. A partnership is built between the family, the community and human service agencies. This partnership supports the family and facilitates their planning for the safety, care and protection of youth, children and the community.
The purpose of Family Group Conferencing is to offer a practice in which families plan for themselves.
Our objective is to have a family meeting, not an agency meeting. This objective is met by creating an environment where the family has the opportunity to:

  • be strengthened
  • be empowered
  • receive customized services
  • minimize trauma and maximize healing
  • increase and improve their options
  • identify, build-upon and utilize their family resources
  • balance the power between "authorities" and family/community members
  • utilize their own expertise in developing their plans

Values & Beliefs

  • Families have strengths and can change
  • Strengths are what ultimately resolve concerns
  • Strengths are discovered through listening, noticing, and paying attention to people
  • Strengths are enhanced when they are acknowledged and encouraged
  • People gain a sense of hope when they feel someone has really listened to them
  • Options are preferable to advice
  • Empowering people is preferable to controlling them
  • A consultant is more helpful to people than a boss