I interviewed Daliborka Ignjatić, a psychologist who works for the association Udruženje Most (Gradiška), to explain what Family Group Conferences are.
A: Daliborka, what is a Family Group Conference?
D: It is a family support service that is being developed and provided in cooperation between the local center for social work and our non Governmental Organization. A tool group conference is a family members gather to support a family in crisis, on order to jointly seek a response for the beneficiaries needs and to create a plan for further support.
In this process are involved also the independents coordinators who are impartial in leading a family meeting. Independent coordinator is someone who does not know the family
and who will try to “direct” the family in an impartial way to solve the problem itself – which is one of the characteristics of this model – more active participation of the family and all members together.
Within a FGC the families in crisis can formulate their needs and choose appropriate way to develop the plan (I’ll explain later what is it).
A: Which is your target group?
D: The target group consists of children (up to 21 years of age) and their families who are considered in “crisis”. I’m talking about those families that have one of his member with severe mental or physical illness, foster families taking care of a child excluded from the biological family, families facing the problem of the juvenile delinquency, with disrupted family relationships, families in need of help to overcome severe stressful situations (severe acute and chronic disease, loss of work, death of close family members etc.) and other kind of issues that can make a family be vulnerable.
A: So, are you working with kids that are already having bad behaviors?
D: No. Actually our goal is tho prevent this to happen.
A: Back to the Family Group Conferences, can you be more specific?
D: Within this tool we prepare a plan that the families must follow to improve their internal dynamics. Of course every plan is personalized considering the peculiarities of the beneficiaries.
This allows us to organize strategies and suggest behaviors that needs to be adopted by the family in order to improve the quality of life of the kid.
Specifically the goal is to enhance the communication between members of the family, the kid’s self-esteem, make sure that they become sociable with peers, that they learn how to be responsible and to fulfill their duties. We want them to grown as good members of the society.
A: Do you check somehow if the families are satisfied from the program and if this being successful?
D: Yes, we do! For a period of two months a tutor calls the family to know if they are following the plan and if they are satisfied with it. After this period of time we contact some of the family members in order to give them a questionnaire to see if the plan has been implemented.
A: Which is the aim of the project?
D: The aim of the project is to develop and establish an innovative model of the Family Group Conferences in the Municipality of Gradiška, through the provision of continuous and high quality support for children and families in crisis.
A: How long are you holding the FGC?
D: The project started in Association Most in May 2016. From May 2016 to March 2018 we successfully held 19 FGC.
A: Who is financing the project?
D: This project is financed by IN Foundation from Banja Luka.
A: What is the plan for the future?
D: We want to apply for the third year of this program. We really want the program to have continuity.
To see how that model looks like, you can visit the link below, and see how family group conference is seen by child and parents perspectives.
Anna Rita Loddo