Welcome - European Network on Family Group Conference

Democratizing help and welfare in Europe
The victory of family over experts

Thirteen-year-old Gabriela grew up with her mother and three siblings, and never knew her father. They moved frequently and by the time she was eight years old, her mother could no longer care for the children. Gabriela was placed in the foster care of her grandmother. Conflicts between them grew, and eventually the grandmother requested that the foster care be terminated and Gabriela was placed in a facility for children in need of immediate assistance. The social worker offered Gabriela FGC to answer the question of who in the extended family could provide care for her. The coordinator widened the circle of the family and despite the strained relationships within the family, the meeting itself was coming up. However, Gabriela’s psychologist stepped into the preparation process and communicated concerns about Gabriela’s potential traumatization should she learn from the family that there was no one to take over her care. At the same time, Gabriella was being prepared for the possibility of going to a children’s home. The professionals who worked with her in the facility assessed that there was no source of care in the family. An administrator, who is a methodological support of coordinator, stepped in and tried to discuss the experts concerns and offer the perspective that decisions on how to deal with the situation cannot be made until the wider family is can get together. She communicated to her that as long as all the principles are maintained, such as open communication, providing a safe space, the ability to leave the room, and most importantly thorough preparation of all participants, concerns about traumatizing the child are not legitimate. The coordinator continued FGC preparation, during which she expanded the circle of people to include a distant aunt who expressed her wish to take over Gabriela’s care. This information was quickly shared among the family members, who eventually assessed that it was no longer necessary to meet at the meeting itself. So the solution was found within the family! Despite this real happy ending, this process of setting up the Family Group Conference confirmed that it is not suitable to present a solution to the family during the process, that the solution is in the hands of the family. The family has the right to come up with its own solution! Thanks to FGC’s offer, Gabriela will grow up in a family, not in a children’s home.


A story from the Czech Republic

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