Collaborative Planning and Decision-Making in Child Welfare
Collaborative, or shared planning and decision-making, describes processes such as Mediation, Family Group Conferencing and Traditional Decision-Making. These processes involve family and community members in child welfare decision-making, and produce plans and agreements that protect children and youth and address the needs of families. The use of collaborative decision-making often avoids the need for court involvement. These processes are voluntary and confidential, as described in the Child, Family and Community Service Act.
Family Group Conference
The family group conference, which is also known as family group decision-making, is one type of shared decision-making process for families who are receiving child welfare services. It is a formal meeting where members of a child or youth's family come together with extended family, close friends, and members of the community to develop a plan for the child. A family group conference coordinator helps families to identify and invite people who will support them in developing a plan for their child. Family group conferences are designed to promote cooperative planning and decision-making and to enhance a family's support network.
For more information:
- Family Group Conferencing for Children (PDF)
- Family Group Conferencing for Youth (PDF)
- Family Group Conferencing for Parents (PDF)
- Family Group Conferencing for Extended Family (PDF)
- Family Group Conferencing for Professionals (PDF)
Sometimes family members and child welfare workers disagree on the best way to meet a child's individual needs. Child Protection Mediation is a process for working out disagreements with the help of a trained, impartial person (a mediator). Mediators do not judge who's right or wrong, nor do they make decisions. Instead, they encourage people to focus on common interests, and work towards a mutually acceptable solution.
Cultural and/or Traditional Decision-making and Dispute Resolution Processes
Traditional decision-making processes are ways of planning and/or resolving disagreements by following community or cultural models and practices. For example, in some Aboriginal communities, elders may have a key role to play in guiding families and a child welfare worker through a decision-making process.