Child, Youth and Family have partnered with Te Awatea Violence Research Centre (VRC) at the University of Canterbury to independently evaluate Family Group Conference (FGC) practices and outcomes. The evaluation focused on care and protection FGCs as relatively recent evaluations have been conducted in the youth justice area. There have been a number of small studies of care and protection FGCs in New Zealand however they have never been evaluated in this country to see how effective they are for children and young people. New Zealand and international research showed a high level of support for FGCs, from both families and professionals, however there is a lack of information about their long-term effectiveness. The findings in this study were conducted at Child, Youth and Family sites in early 2013. We sought the views of a small sample of children, young people and their whānau/caregivers about their experiences of FGCs in order to provide a foundation for the next phases of evaluation which examined the long-term outcomes from a much larger sample of children and young people.
This approach reflects a number of priority areas and initiatives from the Children’s Action Plan and Mā mātou mā tātou. For example the evaluation focused on quality of practice; measuring outcomes for children and young people; seeking the views of children and young people and being child focused; working together with Māori; and examining connections with communities and other agencies who work with vulnerable children. Alongside the independent evaluation of care and protection FGCs, the project outcomes assisted Child, Youth and Family with the development of their internal evaluation capacity.