Navigating virtual participation in Family Group Conferences
The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), a global social impact company, interviewed Youth Justice Coordinators and Care & Protection Coordinators to identify key enablers and barriers to Family Group Conference (FGC) attendance, and in the context of COVID-19 have produced this guidance on how FGCs can best be run with a combination of in-person and virtual participation.
Improving FGC engagement is a priority for Oranga Tamariki. The Evidence Centre worked with BIT to look at ways to support FGC engagement in the COVID-19 environment and mitigate challenges of virtual engagement.
Through qualitative telephone interviews with FGC Coordinators, BIT researchers explored how FGCs can be coordinated effectively using a combination of virtual and in-person engagement. They applied a behavioural science lens to the analysis of the findings and developed this guidance.
The guidance outlines simple, evidence-based and low-cost actions that coordinators can apply to mitigate the impacts of virtual engagement. It will also be useful in hui-a-whānau engagements within the Care and Protection and Youth Justice areas of work.
The guidance provides the following suggestions that coordinators can apply in their practice:
- Build in breaks to keep participants engaged and alert, and allow coordinators to check in with individual people.
- Use waiting periods productively by giving people activities to do during these times.
- Check the technology ahead of the FGC to ensure that all participants are confident about the platform being used.
- Continue the small personal touches that coordinators would have done under normal circumstances.
- Give people individual attention prior to the FGC, particularly for building trust around privacy and confidentiality.
- Increase pre-FGC communication by liaising between groups to enable participants to address the concerns of others.
- Invite people to speak up about the challenges of participating virtually.