The authors of this paper discuss their research study examining the effects of Family Group Conferencing on child welfare; they discuss their research methodology, results, and policy implications.
The present study examined the effectiveness of Family Group Conferencing (FGC) in child welfare. Effects were operationalized in terms of child safety (child maltreatment, supervision order, and out-of-home placement), number of professional services used, parental empowerment, and social support in a one-, three-, six-, and 12-month follow-up. Furthermore, the influence of family characteristics and the level of FGC completion were examined. A total of 328 families were included, randomly assigned to an experimental group (n = 229) and a care as usual (CAU) group (n = 99). FGC was equally effective as CAU in improving child safety but resulted in more out-of-home placements. Furthermore, FGC resulted in a longer duration of child welfare involvement, a marginally higher number of professional services used, and increased parental empowerment and social support. Family characteristics did not moderate the results. Level of FGC completion was in general low. Higher levels of completion were related to a larger social network, a higher number of professional services used, and, marginally, less parental empowerment. In conclusion, although some beneficial results marginally support the use of FGC, it is the question whether these effects outweigh FGC costs, a longer duration of child welfare involvement and a higher number of professional services used. Publisher Abstract Provided