Source: (2005) Restorative Practices e-Forum. June 7. Bethlehem, PA: International Institute of Restorative Practices. Downloaded 5 August 2005.
Laura Mirsky illustrates the process of Family Group Decision Making (FGDM), sometimes known as Family Group Conferencing (FGC), by relating the story of a family in Los Angeles County, California. The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) placed young Gino in various homes throughout his first ten years. During this time he suffered abuse, was separated from his parents, and developed emotional and behavioral problems. Ginoâ€™s parents, convinced that his placement was the result of severe misunderstandings, struggled to bring him home through multiple court hearings and in spite of extensive DCFS interventions. Finally, Joselyn Geaga-Rosenthal, the director of the FGDM program in Los Angeles County, contacted Ginoâ€™s parents in response to her perception that the family had gotten “lost in the system.” Through the FGDM program, Ginoâ€™s extended family, social workers, therapists, and other professionals, were able to sit down together in a conference to exchange information and develop a plan for Gino. The family was given some time alone to discuss possible options, unanimously agreeing that Gino should return home with his parents. Professionals present were able to address their concerns for the boyâ€™s safety, and eventually approved of the arrangement. Following the conference, Gino was successfully reunited with his parents, began excelling in school, and no longer exhibited the behavioral problems he had displayed in foster care. Joselyn attributed this happy ending to the way FGDM empowered the family to focus on Ginoâ€™s well being. Mirsky highlights FGDM through this example as a means of helping families and children who have “fallen through the cracks” of the traditional child welfare system. Abstract courtesy of the Marquette University Law School-Restorative Justice Initiative http://law.marquette.edu/cgi-bin/site.pl?2130&pageID=1831
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