Center on Race and Social Problems

Family Group Decision Making: How Does Race Influence Referrals, Satisfaction, and Outcomes in a National Sample?

January 1, 2007 to January 1, 2011

Family Group Decision-Making (FGDM) is a practice approach to working with families involved with the child welfare system. This modality was developed to be culturally competent for work with minority families, but there have been no examinations of whether this mandate is being carried out in the U.S. Although the basic principles of FGDM fit well with a social work model of viewing clients as experts, there is insufficient data on who is being referred to FGDM and how well this program works for families. Despite its mandate of cultural competency, there are no studies that examine whether or not families of color are being referred to these services, and if so, whether they are satisfied or experiencing better outcomes than families being served by the traditional model of child welfare. To better understand how this modality is working across the U.S., three overarching questions will be explored. The first will examine whether there are racial differences in the families referred to FGDM, whether there are racial differences in satisfaction with this program, and whether there are any racial differences in outcomes of families receiving FGDM. The second question will look at families experiencing co-occurring domestic violence and child maltreatment. The third question will look at FGDM when mental health issues are identified in the family. The research will use data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being (NSCAW), the first nationally-representative study of children investigated for maltreatment. The study began in 2000 with a sample of 5,501 children and, to date, up to five years of follow-up data are available. Significant findings from the national data would lead to efforts to explore FGDM in Allegheny County.