Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Family meetings: Facilitators reflect on neutrality and family empowerment
by Belser, Ona B., Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2012, 287; 3524437
Abstract (Summary)

Child welfare agencies continue to explore programs and services that afford families opportunities to be involved in decisions that may have long lasting effects on their lives. Participatory meetings that fall under the Family Group Decision Making umbrella provide families involved in the social service system an opportunity to design plans to keep their families safe and healthy. All Family Group Decision Making models insist that a meeting facilitator be independent and non-case carrying in order for families to be empowered by the decision making process, with little research to support this requirement. Family Meetings in New York State is a model of family inclusionary practice where some counties use a non-case carrying caseworker to facilitate while others use the caseworker that is assigned to the family who is having a Family Meeting. This qualitative study used focus groups from four counties in New York, where two employed unassigned caseworker facilitators and two utilized the assigned. Their perspectives on family empowerment, neutrality, and the definition of success were examined to uncover similarities and differences in their viewpoints. Facilitators revealed elements they believed enhanced or reduced family involvement that pointed to strategies that may amplify family empowerment. Both types of facilitators appeared to impact the process and content of meetings thereby rendering them non-neutral. The assigned caseworker facilitators offered a more expansive view of success both in terms of its definition and their contributions. This study exposes the multi-faceted role of the facilitator and calls for augmented training and consultation to better prepare them for increasing family empowerment.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Videka, Lynn
Commitee: Claiborne, Nancy, Soine, Lynne
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Social Welfare
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 74/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social work
Keywords: Child welfare, Empowerment, Facilitator, Family group decision making, Family meetings, Neutrality
Publication Number: 3524437
ISBN: 978-1-267-58904-0
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