Honouring the Sacred Bond
Family Group Conferencing (FGC) is an Indigenous-led evidence-based model that assists families involved with CFS mandated agencies become the decision makers in reunifying their families. All members of a family meet to discuss what is needed to ensure their child(ren) will be cared for and safe, supported by a FGC mentor and a broad range of Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata wrap around supports and services. FGC acknowledges that families have the capacity and expertise to address family concerns and develop their own care plans with success and accountability, provided they have adequate resources and relevant information to guide and support their decisions.
FGC has consistently high prevention and reunification rates, through access to Indigenous teachings and ceremony and by using resources effectively. FGC is a highly successful way to maintain and reunify Indigenous families and strengthen Indigenous communities through relationships, support, guidance, challenge and advocacy.
Families also receive the benefit of accessing more than 50 of Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre programs including community care centres, youth leadership development programs and Indigenous knowledge services in Winnipeg.
The FGC model is based on an Indigenous-led process where Indigenous communities worked together to keep their children safe. In 2000, the Maori people of New Zealand gifted Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre with the Indigenous model and the responsibility of being the caretakers of the FGC model, maintaining its integrity and restoring the sacred bond within families.
The FGC model protects cultural integrity and Indigenous knowledge to empower family reconciliation and restore the sacred bond within families. It is common practice in Indigenous communities for extended families and/or community members to share in the care and protection of children when their birth parents cannot or need support to do so.
FGC families are respected, honoured and cared for through Indigenous values, ceremonies, programming and approaches that support individual and family empowerment, healing and wellness. Each FGC is a working collaboration and involves open communication between the FGC team and youth, their families (we adopt a broad definition of family), CFS mandated agencies and other identified supports, encouraging achievement of short and long-term goals and aspirations of children, youth and their families.
REFERRALS AND ADMISSION – Self-referrals and CFS mandated agency referrals
1.Self-referrals or CFS mandated agencies can ONLY be referred through the following Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre Programs:
a. Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre Caring for Our Relatives Programs: Youth Group Care (residential care facilities) and Care Homes (foster care programs);
b. Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre Community Care Centres located at 443 Spence Street, 363 McGregor Street and 575 Larsen Avenue in Winnipeg. Families can come individually to prevent their children from going into care and/or attend with staff from a CFS mandated agency.
c. Or email for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org. Currently FGC is not set up to take direct referrals from CFS mandated agencies.
2. If families meet the criteria of the programs above, an FGC mentor will assist with completing several forms to provide basic information about the family and child(ren). This information will be reviewed by the FGC team and a decision will be made if FGC is the best option for the family; the team may recommend other options to the family and/or CFS mandated agency.
3. If all parties agree, an FGC family mentor is assigned, and the FGC process begins. There are three steps involved in FGC: Preparation, the Family Meeting and Care Plan, as well as monitoring, review and evaluation.
4. CFS mandated agency staff and family members must be committed to the success of the FGC Care Plan and to working with the FGC mentor and CFS mandated agency staff as needed. The focus of each and every FGC Care Plan is the child(ren) and their relationship with both sides of their immediate and extended family.
5. Regular meetings, communication and care planning occur between children and their families, a CFS mandated agency representative and the FGC team to support the short and long-term goals of the Care Plan. Supporting reunification is the main goal of the FGC Care Plan.