Here are some examples of programs that prioritise being inclusive of family in decision-making processes.

Family group decision-making model

Gale Burford and Joan Pennell have worked for many years in developing the family group decision-making model, which incorporates restorative justice principles and responsive regulatory thinking. Their work has been cutting-edge for more than three decades and these researchers continue to push boundaries and offer new ways of thinking of how to make children safer through strengthening their families and communities.

The following is an article on the family group decision-making model:

Pennell, Joan (2006) Restorative Practices and Child Welfare: Toward an Inclusive Civil Society. Journal of Social Issues 62(2), 259-279.


Child welfare systems in the United States are failing to include families in making plans, and this reduces their success in stabilising children’s placements and promoting children’s well-being. A North Carolina study demonstrates how one restorative practice—family group conferencing (FGC)—advances family participation in child welfare planning. A sample of 27 conferences showed that the 221 family group members outnumbered the 115 service providers at the meetings. Family group members were usually satisfied with the conference process and decision and saw the plans as primarily reached through consensus, following a trusted leader, and bargaining. Satisfaction with the decision was reduced when bargaining was employed. Manipulation was more likely to occur when conference preparations were inadequate.

New Zealand

New Zealand has been a trailblazer in using family group conferencing in response to care and protection concerns around children. New Zealand has also been an early adopter and innovator in the use of restorative justice in the criminal justice system, including in response to family violence.

Restorative justice

With a focus on strengthening families, restorative practices in child welfare cases are seen as a mechanism for helping families build on the strengths they do have and connect to a larger support network to ensure the safety and care of children. This page lists many publications related to restorative justice and child welfare.