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American Humane Association Appoints Michael Doolan as a Fellow in its National Center on Family Group Decision Making

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DENVER - The American Humane Association today announced that Michael Doolan, former adjunct senior fellow at the School of Social Work and Human Services at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, has joined American Humane’s National Center on Family Group Decision Making as a fellow.

The 131-year-old American Humane Association is the only national organization dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Fellows and senior fellows in the organization’s Children’s Division are scholars and practitioners who have dedicated their careers to improving the status of children and have made important and foundational contributions related to American Humane initiatives in the field of child protection. Doolan will work to infuse additional policy and practice expertise into U.S. and Canadian communities working to implement and sustain the Family Group Decision Making processes in child welfare and youth justice systems.

Family Group Decision Making recognizes the importance of involving family groups in decision making about children who need protection or care, and it can be initiated by child welfare agencies whenever a critical decision about a child is required. In family group decision making processes, a trained coordinator who is independent of the case brings together the family group and the agency personnel to create and carry out a plan to safeguard children and other family members.  The statutory authorities agree to support family group plans that adequately address agency concerns.

American Humane established the National Center on Family Group Decision Making in 1999 as a vehicle for promoting and supporting family and community involvement and leadership in decision making. This national center provides training and technical assistance, research, and resources to communities implementing the process.

Doolan has an extensive policy, management and practice background in the New Zealand child protection, child welfare and youth justice systems. He has practiced as a field and residential social worker and supervisor, managed national residential programs, and managed a comprehensive program to move care services from institutional to community settings. He led youth justice reform in New Zealand, which included introducing the Family Group Conference in the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989 — a procedure also included in the care and protection processes of that Act.

From 1994 to 2001, Doolan was the Chief Social Worker for the New Zealand’s Department of Child, Youth and Family. During 1999, he consulted with the Minister of State for Children in the Republic of Ireland and was later an external consultant to the Republic’s development of a National Strategy for Children. He has assisted with family group conference development in England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and The Netherlands. Doolan hold a master's degree, with distinction, and a bachelor's degree in education from Canterbury University of Christchurch, New Zealand, and a post-graduate diploma in social science from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. In 2001, he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Doolan joins Senior Fellow Dr. Len Dalgleish of Stirling, Scotland, and Senior Fellow Dr. Patricia Schene of Littleton, Colo., in the American Humane Children’s Division. Dalgleish and Schene are attached to the division’s Child Protection Research Center. For more information about American Humane’s Children’s Division, visit

About American Humane Association

Since 1877, the historic American Humane Association has been at the forefront of every major advancement in protecting children, pets and farm animals from cruelty and abuse and neglect. Today we’re also leading the way in understanding human-animal interaction and its role in society. As the nation’s voice for the protection of children and animals, American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. You can help make a difference, too. Visit American Humane Association at today.



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