FGDM Webinar Series

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Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) and Other Family Engagement Approaches Webinars

Building on the success of our annual FGDM conference and to complement our training institutes, American Humane Association began its FGDM and Other Family Engagement Approaches Webinar Series in August 2007. We recognize that some workers, coordinators, facilitators, service providers and other interested professionals are geographically isolated, work independently in their communities, or have limited resources to attend skills-based trainings. American Humane Association’s FGDM team identifies topics for the Webinar Series based on training and conference evaluations and informal dialogues with our FGDM colleagues. Webinars are scheduled to occur monthly throughout the year, with the exception of January, June and December.

The 2011 series is designed to promote stimulating dialogue that helps community leaders advance the practice, policy and implementation of FGDM and other family engagement approaches; create a culture of support and learning for FGDM coordinators/facilitators and other service providers; build strategic solutions (based on the experiences of many) to any roadblocks encountered with implementation; and leverage the expertise within FGDM and family engagement networks. These webinars have been approved for CEUs.

Register for one or more sessions in 2011. (PDF)


Available Sessions



Staffing Your FGDM Program for Success: Recruitment, Retention and Staff Development

Wednesday, July 27, 2011, 2 p.m. EDT (1 p.m. CDT, noon MDT, 11 a.m. PDT)

Jeanne Ferguson, Family Assessment Response Project Manager, American Humane Association; and Kelli DeCook, Program Supervisor, Family Service Rochester, Minn.

FGDM program integrity depends on smart, planful and insightful management of staff. Sound easy? It’s not. But it is possible to anticipate difficulties and prepare responses, especially in these fiscally stressful times. If you are a supervisor, manager, program developer or educator, please join us for a webinar to explore the “ins and outs” of effective strategies for recruiting, retaining and developing the workers who are the heart and soul of your FGDM program. Using American Humane Association’s FGDM Guidelinesfor selecting coordinators as a starting point, the webinar presenters will provide information about the challenges of “matching” the right staff to your program. Participants will also have an opportunity to share their experiences and how they are addressing challenges and concerns. Asking the right questions and sharing answers supports the need to be informed and innovative in meeting the demands of this rigorous practice.

FGDM: A Family-Led “Settlement Conference” for Dependency Courts

Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011, 2 p.m. EDT (1 p.m. CDT, noon MDT, 11 a.m. PDT)

Honorable Todd A. Hoover, President Judge, Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas, Pennsylvania and FGDM State Leadership Team Co-Chair Harrisburg, Pa.; and Sandy Moore, Administrator, Office of Children & Families in the Courts, Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Creating a court culture that adequately balances the requirements of law with the genuine inclusion of children and family voices is a fundamental task of any dependency process. In Pennsylvania, this is being accomplished through the use of FGDM. Supported by the federal Fostering Connections legislation, Pennsylvania Courts and Child Welfare Agencies, FGDM has become akin to a family-led “settlement conference.” With 62 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties at some stage of implementation, FGDM has become embedded into practice, training and legal resources (e.g., the Pennsylvania Judicial Bench Book). This webinar will explore specific steps taken to cement the practice into the state’s judicial system, including support from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, inclusion in the Pennsylvania Judicial Dependency Bench Book, the Court’s Permanency Practice Initiative, and the Court of Common Pleas Dependency Case Management System. Finally, this webinar will address commonly asked questions from judges, guardians ad litem, parent advocates, court-appointed special advocates and other legal professionals.

How Does FGDM Fit With First Nation and Native American Communities?

Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011, 2 p.m. EDT (1 p.m. CDT, noon MDT, 11 a.m. PDT)

Christine McKay, First Nation Family Group Decision Making Coordinator/Independent Contractor, Southern Ontario, Canada

This webinar will examine the impact that FGDM is having on First Nation and Native American communities and how the model is presently being adapted for First Nation and Native American people. The presenter will examine three themes that impact the introduction and continued use of FGDM with First Nation and Native American families:

  • The impact of historical pain and trauma due to past family disruption and the continued adversarial relationship between First Nation/Native American people and the child welfare system. The importance of understanding and acknowledging the past in order to move forward will be highlighted.
  • The important role of culture in FGDM, as well as how to ensure a culturally competent approach that will allow communities and families to reflect the unique customs and values of their First Nation or Native American culture.
  • The examination of strategies for the continued growth of FGDM for First Nation and Native American communities, including the barriers that impede the process and the approaches that contribute to success.

The Power of Voice: Family Group Conferencing and Family Violence

Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011, 2 p.m. EDT (1 p.m. CDT, noon MDT, 11 a.m. PDT)

Michelle Howard, Child Welfare Training and Technical Assistance Specialist, American Humane Association; and Claudia Kearney, Trainer, Center for Family and Community Engagement, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.

Participants of this webinar will have an opportunity to hear from a family member who has survived domestic violence and can speak to the benefits and challenges of using FGDM in family violence cases. Participants will be able to engage in dialogue with a survivor, as well as increase their understanding of how to effectively coordinate the FGDM meeting, attend to the needs and concerns of children participating in the meeting, consider the influence of culture in FGDM, and safely include abusers in the process. Participants will also learn the importance of understanding the perspectives of the victim, the children/youth, the family and the abuser so that all needs and safety concerns are addressed. Finally, the presenters of this webinar will cover potential situations that may or may not support an FGDM process, and will stress the importance of careful consideration of the use of FGDM when domestic violence is a concern.

Engaging Youth in the FGDM Process: What to Consider

Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011, 2 p.m. EDT (1 p.m. CDT, noon MDT, 11 a.m. PDT)

Patricia Evans, Trainer, Resource Center for Family-Focused Practice, the Center for Human Services, UC Davis Extension Davis, Calif.; and Anita Horner, Manager of the National Center on Family Group Decision Making and Manager of Practice Advancements, American Humane Association



How do we engage youth’s voice regarding their role in the decision-making and planning process? How is it determined what level of participation is in the youth’s best interest? What should preparation include? What about follow-up after the conference? In this webinar, the presenters will discuss important considerations when working with youth through the FGDM process, as well as ways to involve youth in every aspect of the process. The presenters will also explore decision making and planning with youth for purposes such as reunification, transitioning from one level of care to another, truancy, delinquency, achieving permanency, aging out and other areas where decision making and planning may occur with youth.

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