This chapter discusses the concepts, underlying principles, benefits, and challenges of using “whole-family” approaches in social work. It articulates the theory and skills associated with family engagement as part of a human rights and social justice framework for social work practice in forensic settings. The chapter describes the ethical imperatives and evidence base supporting the use of family group decision making (FGDM) in regulatory settings. It engages whole families as partners in the use of FGDM in child protection and youth justice. The chapter also describes the theory, empirical support, and skills in use of FGDM, or family group conferencing (FGC). It concluded with an example of how alert forensic social workers must be to the potential for their best intentions to collide with the tenants of responsive practice and a quote from a child protection social worker who worked closely with the author on a pilot project using FGC.
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Forensic Social Work, 2nd Edition:Psychosocial and Legal Issues Across Diverse Populations and Settings
The growing public awareness of bias and discrimination and the disproportionate involvement of minority populations, especially based on race, class, and gender, have affected the social work profession with a call to fulfill its long-forgotten mission to respond and advocate for justice reform and health and public safety. Forensic social workers practice far and wide where issues of justice and fairness are found. This book emphasizes on the diversity of populations and settings, social workers would best serve their clients adding a forensic or legal lens to their practice. It targets the important and emerging practice specialization of forensic social work, a practice specialization that speaks to the heart, head, and hands (i.e., knowledge, values, and skills) of social work using a human rights and social justice approach integrated with a forensic lens. The book defines forensic social work to include not only a narrow group of people who are victims or convicted of crimes and subsequently involved in the juvenile justice and criminal justice settings, but broadly all the individuals and families involved with family and social services, education, child welfare, mental health, and behavioral health or other programs, in which they are affected by human rights and social justice issues, or federal and state laws and policies. Practitioners who read this book will learn and apply a human rights legal framework and social justice and empowerment theories to guide multilevel prevention, psychosocial assessments, and interventions with historically underserved individuals, families, and communities, especially using the life course systems power analysis strategy and family televisiting. The book fills a critical gap in the knowledge, values, and skills for human rights and social justice–focused social work education and training.