Contextual Adaptation of Family Group Conferencing Model: Early evidence from Guatemala

Guatemala has faced a disproportionate number of children placed outside their families through unethical intercountry adoptions or into large residential settings, jeopardising child and family rights. In response, an international team conducted a pilot training in Guatemala on family group conferencing (FGC) as a means of maintaining children in their homes or with their kin. The training participants were child welfare professionals from government and non-government organisations as well as academics. The training included pre-post assessment of the participants' grasp of key FGC practices and focus groups on the suitability of the model in a low-wealth country with very limited child welfare resources.

In general, participants began and ended with a relatively elevated understanding of basic FGC concepts. The focus groups assisted with interpreting these assessment results. According to focus group participants, FGC is culturally compatible with the country's indigenous Mayan traditions and easily implementable with Guatemalan families. The participants recommended the routine and multi-sectoral incorporation of the model including by the judiciary and the attorney general's office tasked with the ultimate child welfare decision making. Implications include the institutionalisation of the FGC model through national policy, further training for practitioners and research on the model's efficacy in Guatemala.

Published 2019-01-15