City of Alexandria, VA
Family Group Conferencing
As part of the Model Court Project, the Court has undertaken an effort to establish Family Group Conferencing as a method of achieving permanency for children sooner. This concept brings together the strengths of families outside of the courtroom setting to find solutions for children who have come into foster care. If successful, children can safely return to a family member or, possibly, their parents, rather than be placed for adoption or have some other permanent goal established for them.
The process brings a family and persons who are important in the life of a family together with an impartial facilitator and people who have information about the child and his/her family. Once the information is provided to the family and those persons invited by the family to help in the group process, everyone else leaves the meeting and allows the family and the extended family to come up with a proposed plan that will respond to the needs of the child while ensuring his/her safety.
Once agreed upon by the family, the agencies, and the lawyers, the plan is then presented to the judge for approval.