Family Service Association of Wyoming Valley
“Stronger Communities Through Stronger Families”
Family Group Decision Making in Luzerne County

FSA NEPA, with the support of Luzerne County Children & Youth Services has implemented a process known as Family Group Decision Making (FGDM).

FGDM is a practice that recognizes the role of families and their traditional power to best understand how to care for its members. It respectfully offers families the opportunity to come together as the best possible people to make decisions on keeping their children safe.


To assure that children are protected and live free from abuse and neglect and are given the opportunity to grow and develop to their fullest potential through the active use of family and community strengths and resources.


To enhance the quality of life for children by becoming a leader in promoting family-centered and collaborative approaches to achieving safety, timely permanency, and the overall well-being of children and families.

The Four Goals of FGDM:

  • All children will be safe.
  • All families will be respected and empowered in their role of caring for their children.
  • The community will provide access to resources to support the family.
  • The family and community will work together for the protection and nurturing of the child.

The practice values and beliefs in FGDM:

  • Families have strengths and can change.
  • Strengths are ultimately what resolve change.
  • Strengths are discovered through listening, noticing and paying attention to people.
  • Strengths are enhanced when they are acknowledged and encouraged.
  • People gain a sense of hope when they are listened to.
  • Options are preferable to advice.
  • Empowering people is preferable to controlling them.
  • A consultant is more helpful to people than a boss.

Once a family has requested a FGDM Conference, the Coordinator will begin to prepare for the conference by:

  • Explaining the process and reviewing the purpose of the conference.
  • Meeting with the family and helping them set up a family gathering, which will include anyone the family wishes to invite.
  • Contacting and inviting individuals to the conference.
  • Arranging a date, time and neutral location that is convenient for the family.

There are four stages to a conference:

  • Information Sharing
    The participants discuss the family's strengths and concerns.
  • Family Private Time
    The family meets in private to share a meal and create a family plan. During this stage any professionals attending the meeting will be asked to leave the room to allow for the family private time.
  • Plan Presentation and Acceptance
    The family and other participants come together again to present and review the family plan.
  • The Family Plan is put into action.

Why does FGDM work?

  • Family members make the decisions.
  • With FGDM, the family uses their insight, ability and judgment to create a plan that addresses their concerns.
  • Out-of-home placement for children is avoided when possible by addressing and working to solve problems while focusing on safety, permanency and well-being.
  • FGDM strengthens relationships between families and service providers.
  • FGDM creates a better future for children, families and the community.
  • There is no cost to families who participate in a FGDM Conference.

For more information, please contact:

Rose Gallagher Ostrosky- Director of Clinical & Casework Services at 570-823-5144, ext. 307

Marlene Woods - Family Group Decision Making Coordinator at 570-823-5144, ext. 347

For more information read the FGDM protocol

FGDM Protocol