A meta-analytic study, involving 14 controlled studies (N=88495 participants), was conducted to examine the effectiveness of Family Group Conferencing (FGC) in youth care. Child safety (in terms of reports of child maltreatment and out-of-home placement) and involvement of youth care were included as outcome variables; study, sample and intervention characteristics were included as moderators.
Overall, FGC did not significantly reduce child maltreatment, out-of-home placements, and involvement of youth care. Study and sample characteristics moderated the effectiveness of FGC. Retrospective studies found FGC to be more effective than regular care in reducing the recurrence of maltreatment and decreasing the number and length of out-of-home placements, whereas prospective studies found FGC to be not more effective than regular care.
Moreover, FGC was found to increase the number and length of out-of-home placements for families with older children and minority groups. The findings of this study showed that robust research proving effectiveness of FGC is limited. It is, therefore, crucial for the safety and protection of children in youth care that, before broadly implementing this decision making model in youth care, more robust studies examining the effectiveness of FGC be conducted.
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