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Family Group Decision Making (FGDM )/ Family Finding

Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) is a voluntary initiative that calls together extended family of a child, biological and non-biological members. The purpose of the meeting is to make a plan for the safety, protection, and normal development of the identified child(ren). This is a strength-based and family-driven initiative, which places responsibility for addressing the issues regarding the identified youth on the family, and not the agency.

The model for Family Finding was created by Kevin Campbell and has begun implementation in Lehigh County in 2009. Within the model, there are several steps developed to engage family and youth. These strategies are meant to connect the loneliest youth in the foster care system with a lifetime support network and family connections. This work with the youth can include anyone important throughout their life and is a good way to increase the members of a natural support system. Strategies not only include meeting with the child and parent to gather information of the family, but also searching for disconnected members through computer resources and networking. Family members and connections/supports will gather then for a Family Group Conference to plan for the youth. The goal is to increase the youth’s connections and positive outcomes, while decreasing dependence on system services.


Family Quotes 

 ‘They need to continue to have these for all families in need.’

‘The conference was a learning experience for me and I learned a lot about how to bring the family together and how to work together.’

‘It brought things to light for me. I’m more aware of how hard it’s been for the children. I appreciate that we can do something to help.’

‘We all worked together for a solution for the best interest of the kids.’

 ‘The family group was a good experience because I had a great support system.’

‘Something very much needed’

‘Never knew such a thing existed’

‘This plan will cause us all to work together better’

‘Felt effective, expected conflict, tears, yelling and none of that occurred’

‘Will definitely recommend for other families’

‘Gave the family a chance to succeed’


  Family Group Decision Making Brochure

 Family Group Decision Making Brochure (Spanish)

 Family Group Conferencing FAQ


For further information, contact:

Lehigh County Office of Children and Youth Services
Krysta Heffner,MSW,LSW
610-782-3113 or

The Program for Women and Families
Lori VanDoren, MSW
610-433-6556 x135 or

JusticeWorks YouthCare
Jessica Fritz
484-538-6446 or