Holding the Course on Family Engagement: A Roundtable on Family Engagement at the Intersection of Child Protection and Domestic Violence
Facilitated by Dr. Gale Burford, University of Vermont School of Social Work, and
Dr. Joan Pennell, North Carolina State University Center for Family and Community Engagement.
The rhetoric of "family driven" practice and "family engagement" can lead to tensions between child protection and domestic violence programs. For child protection, family may mean just another kin placement for children; for women's advocates, family may mean further endangering the safety of mothers and their children. In both instances, narrowly defining family limits the potential of FGDM to enhance the capacity of family groups to sustain all their members, child and adult, male and female. Research shows that FGDM is commonly used in the USA to address child protection situations of domestic violence (McCrae & Fusco, 2010; Weigensberg et al., 2009). Thus, it is all the more paramount to help the family group provide an ongoing counter-weight to the force of legal and professional decision-making processes specifying when children should be removed from their families and when mothers should leave their abusers. Creating and maintaining interventions and organizational culture associated with family group practice is challenging enough by itself. With each system involved with the family, be it child welfare, domestic violence, juvenile justice, or mental health, the issue of who will be recognized as family is challenged.
This session will engage participants in an exchange of views and discussion of a number of important safety issues related to helping the family, as widely defined, come to the table and remain involved. A summary sheet of issues and questions pertaining to safe engagement will be sent by e-mail to registered participants before the session to help structure the discussion. Time will be held open for issues from the floor.