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Family Group Decision-Making
Helping Families To Create A Plan
for Their Children's Care & Safety

happy children

Allowing families, and the important people in your lives, to come together to share knowledge, in order to help you make the best decisions possible for your family.

What is A Family Group Decision-Making Meeting?

Family Group Decision-Making (FGDM) is a meeting about your family. It brings together your family, friends, the social worker and service providers to work as a team. It is an option that may be offered to you by your social worker, if your children have been referred to Child and Family Services. The meeting is about your family taking charge of your lives. The goal is to help you work out a safety plan to address the care and safety of your children. If you choose a Family Group Decision-Making meeting, you are allowing the important people in your lives to share their knowledge, their concerns, and the strengths they see in your family to help you in making the best decisions possible for your children.

We believe...

  • Families are the best place to raise children.
  • All families have strengths.
  • Families want to protect their children.
  • Families can make good decisions.
  • Agencies can support families
  • Providers can help families to develop a safety plan.
  • Creative solution-making is the focus of the Family Group Decision-Making meeting.

Who Should Attend the FGDM Meeting?

Anyone you believe would be helpful in creating solutions for your family. This may include family members, relatives, trusted friends, tribal members, religious leaders, mental health providers, school staff, attorneys, medical providers, law enforcement, or anyone else you feel would be beneficial in helping you create a safety plan for your children. Remember, the strength of the FGDM meeting is that family and friends put their hearts and minds together and create solutions they never would have thought of on their own. Children may be invited to the meeting depending on the particular situation of your family.

What Will I Be Asked to Do for the Meeting?

  • Help create a list of individuals who will attend
  • Help select a safe, comfortable place and time to hold the meeting.
  • Come to the meeting ready to share your ideas with the group, and to listen to others' contributions.
  • Be honest, open, and respectful to others at the meeting.

What Happens at FGDM Meetings?

  • Everyone will come together, and the meeting facilitator will guide the discussion.
  • The purpose and goals of the meeting will be stated.
  • Family, friends, and providers will share the strengths of your family
  • Family, friends, and providers will share any concerns they have about your family.
  • Providers will discuss support services available in the community.
  • The family and relatives may then meet alone to create a plan to address the concerns expressed earlier. The family then returns to the meeting, and the plan is reviewed and discussed with the social worker.

Or,

  • The family may also choose to have everyone remain in the meeting to create the plan. Your facilitator or social worker can give you more details about the specific steps when you contact them.

How Much Time Does All of This Take?

The actual meeting can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. Some run shorter, others longer. From the time you first sign your consent form, it will usually take from 2 to 4 weeks to hold the conference, contact all the people you want invited, and explain the purpose of the meeting to them. This may take some time, but we have found that it is important to talk to everyone prior to the meeting.

Parents find that a Family Group Decision-Making meeting gives them a voice in a process that may, at times, seem beyond their control.

Advantages for Families

  • Helps the family understand the agency's role, and reason for involvement.
  • Families fully participate in planning for the safety and protection of their children.
  • Extended family, friends, the agency, and the community combine their strengths to support your family in your efforts to care for the children.
  • The agency and the family work together, instead of "against" one another, to create a family plan. Some plans are voluntary and some plans require court approval.
  • If Child and Family Services does not agree with the family's plan, then the agency may submit both plans to the court.
  • The FGDM meeting will increase the accountability for all meeting participants.
  • FGDM meetings support placement of children with extended family members, when appropriate.
  • Whenever possible, Child and Family Services will assist the family in completing the plan.
  • FGDM meetings may decrease the time children are away from the parents. They may also decrease the time the agency needs to be involved with the family.

How can I get more information on Family Group Decision-Making Meetings?

You may call any county or regional Child and Family Services Division (CFSD) office in your community, and ask to speak to someone concerning a Family Group Decision-Making meeting. Find the CFSD office closest to you by referring to these links:

Or, send us your name, address, and email message to: cfsd@mt.gov.

Page last updated: 08/26/2013