Welcome - European Network on Family Group Conference

Democratizing help and welfare in Europe
A bridge between the life world and the system world

The independence of the Eigen Kracht-coordinator in an Eigen Kracht-conference is essential. This week I heard about a situation that illustrates this clearly. A mother of two children requests a conference, because the family guardian has informed her that her children may be removed from her home and she disagrees with this decision. She does not want to discuss it with the family guardian. The Eigen Kracht-coordinator first sits down with the mother, whose only wish is for her children to live at home with her. He then speaks to the family guardian, who says intervention is necessary since the mother will not cooperate.

No interest in the outcome of the plan
Though it may seem as though there is a great conflict of contradictory interests, all parties involved in fact have the same interest: making sure the children have a safe and pleasant place to live. However, the mother doesn’t trust the family guardian and does not want her to be present at the conference. The guardian does not want to be present if the mother will not listen to her concerns. The coordinator repeatedly points to the interests of the children and informs everyone that he will do nothing with the content of the plan and that he has no interests whatsoever in the outcome of the plan.

Independence makes a difference
In the end, his independence makes the difference. The mother feels safe talking to him about the people that are important to her. In the interests of the children family and friends want to help by thinking along. Once it becomes clear that there is a network around the children and that the process will be guided by the coordinator, the family guardian is willing to cooperate. Thus, the system world (in the form of the family guardian, who sets conditions the plan must meet) and the life world (in the form of family and friends, who love the children) meet at the conference. All parties involved are of importance and can participate in their own role. It turns out the family shares many of the family guardian’s concerns. In the presence of her circle, the mother has the courage to admit that things have indeed become too much for her too handle. Her insight in the problems raises confidence in the family guardian. The circle crafts a plan that supports the mother and her children and that arranges temporary residence for the children. The family guardian approves of the plan as it contains sufficient agreements on the safety of the children. ‘Because of my independent position the family guardian could play her role and the family felt safe enough to craft a plan,’ says the coordinator.


A story from The Netherlands

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