In America

This book chapter examines the challenges that arise when trying to transform child welfare services. John Braithwaite’s model of responsive regulation and the Braithwaite pyramid are applied to family group conferencing in child welfare. The authors note that Braithwaite’s model helps to understand the relation of two seemingly contradictory but essential elements of family group conferences: empowerment of the family and state or social control. The levels of the pyramid represent different decision-making processes; in child welfare, the pyramid reflects a continuum from state-imposed decisions to state-managed but family-regulated outcomes. The chapter also addresses the difficulties of shifting the role of the state from that of controller to that of regulatory partner when working with families in the child protective services system. The authors then discuss the threats to implementation of family group conferencing and variations of such in the U.S. Threats to implementation include concerns about cost, preparation time, staff training and debates about appropriate cases for family group conferencing. Finally, the chapter describes the use of family group conferencing in Hawaii (called Ohana Conferencing) and the elements that led to its successful implementation.

Allan, G. (1996, October). The New Zealand family group conference -- A lawyer’s perspective. UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Building a Better Future for Colorado’s Children and Families Conference, Denver, CO.
This paper emphasizes the importance of families in the family group conference process and rationale behind the legislative choices incorporated in New Zealand’s Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act of 1989. The author asserts family members are naturally better positioned to provide care and love to their children than are professionals. The author also describes the choices of the act to not include attorneys except for those appointed by the family court, in order to preserve the...