What is it?
Peyakutenuu Niishtam. or Family Group Conferences, are gathering that include family members, community workers, social workers, youth protection workers, and other interested individuals, who come together to develop a family healing plan. The Family Group Conference provides a traditional way to meet and work together to address challenges faced by families needing support. It helps everyone learn about services, programs and traditional practices that could help them. Keeping the family together is the first objective.
Who is it for?
Family group conferences are primarily for families who are having difficulties resolving issues such as elder abuse, spousal conflicts, sexual abuse, child neglect and youth at risk. Family group conferences aim to help families to find ways to address issues so that they can stay together.
Where is it offered?
Family group conferences are offered through your local CMC and can be held there or at the family home.
How does it work?
Before the meeting
- After you meet with your social worker, community worker, Youth Protection worker or Young Offender worker, the worker will contact a coordinator, who will then contact you to arrange a time for the Family Group Conference.
- The coordinator will then meet with you to explain how the Family Group Conference works. The coordinator will ask you what family members you feel should be involved in the meeting, and anyone else who should attend. The coordinator will also discuss service providers that could be invited to bring useful information.
- Then, the coordinator will contact everyone to invite them to the Family Group Conference.
The coordinator’s job also includes ensuring that everyone in the meeting feels safe.
During the meeting
- The coordinator will welcome the group. This could also include a traditional welcoming, such as song or prayer, if the family wishes.
- Participants then introduce themselves and describe their expectations of the meeting.
- The coordinator will present guidelines and an outline for the meeting.
- Speakers and service providers will share information about services that could support a family plan. This will be followed by some time for the family to ask questions of the service providers.
- The family will then meet alone to discuss options to help the children and the family. The family group will come up with a plan.
- The family plan is then discussed and refined with the Social Services or Youth Protection worker.
- Then the group – including the family and support workers – discuss ways for putting the plan into place.
- Finally, a time is set up for another meeting to review the progress of the plan.
How long does it last?
Each Family Group Conference will last as long as necessary to draw up a plan and define strategies to dealing with issues, so it may take the whole day. A follow-up Family Group Conference will be arranged during the first meeting.
How can I get this service?
To get this service, contact the community worker or social worker at your local CMC.
Where can I learn more?
Contact the community worker or social worker at your local CMC in find out more about Family Group Conference.