Increasing Social Support for Child Welfare-Involved Families Through Family Group Conferencing

Tyler W Corwin, Erin J Maher, Lisa Merkel-Holguin, Heather Allan, Dana M Hollinshead, John D Fluke - The British Journal of Social Work


Social support networks can provide instrumental and emotional support that buffer against child maltreatment. Family Group Conferencing, in part, aims to develop support networks in the interest of child safety. This study uses a randomised controlled trial to examine the impact of Family Group Conferencing on caseworkers’ perceptions of families’ levels of social support. The analytical sample included 287 families with a substantiated report of child abuse or neglect assigned to receive in-home services in two counties. Ordinal logistic regression analyses demonstrated family meeting participation and, Family Group Conference participation in particular, jurisdiction, and the number of children on the case record significantly predicted perceived improvement in social support. This study provides evidence that family meetings may increase levels of social support and provide a protective factor for child safety.