Source: Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges--Permanency Planning for Children Department.

Family conferences are family-focused interventions designed to build and strengthen the natural care giving system for the child. In this model, family members and support people identified by the family, as well as child welfare system caseworkers or counselors and other service providers, meet together. The purpose is to discuss the case and reach agreement on a plan regarding the care and safety of the child or children. Family decision-making conference (FDMC) programs have significant potential to be useful tools in civil child abuse and neglect cases precisely because participants become more engaged in the process and more information is typically shared. FDMC was introduced into the Miami-Dade Juvenile Court in 1998. It is now a major reform initiative of the Miami Model Court project. This document presents the results of an evaluation of the FDMC program of the Miami Model Court. The evaluation was conducted between 1999 and 2000. The aim was to enhance understanding of the process and outcomes associated with the Court’s implementation of family decision-making conferences. Following an introduction to the Miami Model Court and its FDMC program, the document covers the following matters: the evaluation methodology; evaluation results for process; evaluation results for outcomes; results of achievement of program goals; and appendices, including research forms.