Family Engagement Services
When a child is in care of Child and Family Services, The Family Centre believes it is critical to re-establish and maintain a child’s connection to their family, culture, and community. We support families in coming together and contributing to the care and well-being of their children and the whole family.
Family engagement services allow families to connect, in meaningful and purposeful ways, with children, youth, family, communities, and formal systems through family searches, circles, and family group conferences.
Key members in the child’s life are encouraged to communicate openly with one another to determine the best plan forward. They do this through formal and informal activities that help families:
- Communicate with each other
- Make decisions
- Share information
- Solve problems
Who can access this service?
Family engagement services are available to children who are involved with Edmonton and Area Child and Family Services. The service team determines eligibility.
Anyone involved in the life of the child(ren) may be able to attend the family group conference or circle. These include immediate and extended family members, friends, neighbours, teachers, religious officials, other professionals, Band designate or Indigenous resource contacts, and service team members.
How does the service work?
Through family engagement services, families may participate in one or more of the following activities:
1. Family searches
The Family Centre will conduct family searches for every referral we receive through family group conferences. We also perform these services for standalone referrals that we receive through a family intervention generalist, following a discussion with a family’s service team. Reasons for a standalone referral may include:
- Birth of a new baby
- Emergency apprehension
- Death in the family
- Other family emergency
Under these circumstances, a family search may help us locate as many family members as possible in a short period. We do this to find immediate placement options or explore possible family supports. Following the initial search, the service team may decide to hold a family group conference.
2. Family circles
Family circles help families have conversations, make decisions more quickly, share information, and solve problems. Family circles focus on specific topics that may include:
- Support and encouragement
- Creating connections
- Building relationships
- Healing and restoration
- Sharing information and talking
The family intervention generalist may recommend a family circle, following discussion with the service team, if it is the right fit. Before deciding, the circle facilitator will determine if it is the best path forward or if there are more suitable services for the family.
The family circle facilitator, along with the service team, will organize the event, including inviting participants, securing a location, ordering food, etc.
3. Family group conferences
Family conferences bring together family members, close friends, and community members to create a plan for a child or youth who requires intervention services. Conferences help families understand the root causes of the problem together, building on the family’s strengths to develop a family plan (Plan A support, Plan B, transition to independence, etc.).
If Child and Family Services approves this family plan, it becomes the formal plan for the family. The conference facilitator may attend all service team meetings before the conference (if it is beneficial), and all meetings from the initial conference to the review meeting. We may also invite interested or relevant family members to service team meetings, following the conference.
How may families benefit from these services?
Family engagement may result in:
- Determining where a child should live when they can no longer live with their parents
- Creating a support system for a family experiencing challenges
- Strengthening relationships among family members to improve their family well-being
- Empowering families to care for and make positive decisions for their children instead of relying on agency involvement
When and where is it offered?
- The dates and locations for family engagement conferences vary and are determined by the participating professionals and family members.
How can I find out more?
Please contact the program manager Jennifer Hayes at:
To learn more about the program, visit the Blue Quills First Nations College web site. The Family Centre family engagement facilitators participate in this training.