Family Connections

The Family Connections training materials, resources, and research capsules on this website are meant to be a resource for others committed to the evolution of family connections practice.


Oregon has long been known as a site for innovative family engagement practice. Multiple forms of family meetings have been implemented in Oregon over the years and many child welfare offices use some form of intensive efforts to find family for children in care. Beginning in the Fall 2012 and over the next three years, Oregon implemented a federally funded (Children's Bureau) demonstration project, Family Connections Oregon, to test a model intervention, to develop a supportive infrastructure for sustaining family connections practice, and to establish a family voice association at the policy level. These practices are continuing in Oregon through a IV-E waiver demonstration project called Leveraging Intensive Family Engagement (LIFE).


As part of Family Connections Oregon, this training curriculum was developed to teach the theoretical foundations, applications and facilitation skills required for a variety of collaborative team decision-making models used in child welfare. It can be used in its entirety, with some modifications and/or sections may be excerpted independently to train staff on various components.

Learning Objectives

  1. Gain an understanding of the historical context of Family Meetings in Oregon, as well as nationally.
  2. Describe the philosophy and values that underlie the use of family meetings as an engagement strategy.
  3. Recognize the importance of family meetings in achieving the Children and Family Services Review (CFSR) goals of safety, permanency and well-being for children and families.
  4. Explain the role of the facilitator in the Family Meeting Process to various types of stakeholders.
  5. Articulate knowledge of and demonstrate ability to use engagement skills to prepare all participants for a Family Meeting.
  6. Demonstrate the skills and knowledge to assess child and family strengths and needs in a culturally relevant and trauma-informed family meeting.
  7. Demonstrate increased skills and competency for facilitation of Family Meetings within child welfare including managing challenging team dynamics.
  8. Knowledge of facilitation approaches when there are cultural and linguistic issues in Family Meetings.
  9. Articulate the assessment and facilitation approaches needed when domestic violence exists.


Trainer Materials

Curriculum (PDF) »

Needs vs. Services Activity (PDF) »

Jeremy Scenario (PDF) »


Participant Handouts

Training Handouts (PDF) »

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study (PDF) »

Strengths Needs Culture Discovery (SNCD):

SNCD Form (DOC) »

SNCD Sample (PDF) »

SNCD Note Sheet (DOC) »


Supplemental Resources

Additional resources on family engagement, family find and family group conferencing practice are available in our Resources and Research section.

Using Motivational Strategies (PDF) »

Behind Behavior: The Challenge of Appreciating Child & Youth Needs, Marty Beyer (PDF) »

Child Trends: Family Strengths: Often Overlooked, But Real (PDF) »

Biology of Trauma (PDF) »

The Impact of Trauma on Children at Different Ages (PDF) »

What is the Potential Trauma to Children During Removal? (PDF) »

Possible Impact of Trauma on Parenting (PDF) »

Trauma-Informed Care for Children Exposed to Violence, Tips for Parents and Other Caregivers (PDF) »

Understanding Child Traumatic Stress (PDF) »

The Brain Behind Mediation: Reflection on Neuroscience, Conflict Resolution & Decision-Making (PDF) »

Fact Sheet: Immigration and Child Welfare (PDF) »

Fact Sheet: Latino Children in Child Welfare (PDF) »

Oregon DHS Caseworker: What You Need to Know About FCO (PDF) »

Parent & Family Members: What You Need to Know About FCO (PDF) »

Community Partners & Stakeholders: What You Need to Know About FCO (PDF) »

Resources &  Research

Family Engagement

Child Trends: Bringing Family to the Table: Tips and Techniques for Effective Family Engagement, December 2011 (PDF) »

Authentic Engagement Funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (PDF) »

Spotlight on Father Engagement (PDF) »

North Carolina - Family Partner Structure for Empowering Families & Communities (PDF) »

National Resource Center for CBFRS Programs - Parent Leadership: Successful Strategies (PDF) »

Family Search and Engagement, Lessons Learned in Support of Ohio's Child and Family Services Review Program Improvement Plan for Purposes of Dissemination to PCSAs (PDF) »


Family Find

Child Trends: Piecing Together the Puzzle: Tips and Techniques for Effective Discovery in Family Finding, December 2011 (PDF) »

Child Trends: Family Finding: Does Implementation Differ when Serving Different Child Welfare Populations, October 2011 (PDF) »

Child Trends: Client Voices: Youth, Parent and Relative Perspectives on Family Finding, May 2013 (PDF) »


Family Group Conferencing Practice

Family Connection Oregon Visual Representation

Involving Families in Decision Making in Child Welfare: A Review of the Literature (PDF) »

Executive Summary: Involving Families in Decision Making in Child Welfare: A Review of the Literature (PDF) »

Child Welfare Information Gateway: Bibliography on Family Group Decision Making Articles, May 2013 (PDF) »

Family Group Decision Making with Lakota Families in Two Tribal Communities: Tools to Facilitate FGDM Implementation and Evaluation (PDF) »

Family Group Decision Making: Texas Evaluation, October 2006 (PDF) »

Family Group Decision Making: Impact on Removals and Permanency in Texas (PDF) »

Innovation In Child Welfare The adoption and implementation of Family Group Decision Making in Pennsylvania (PDF) »

Family Connections Summary & Recommendations 2009 Cross-site (PDF) »

Family Connections 2009 Cross-Site Final Report (PDF) »

Family Team Conferences in Domestic Violence Cases (PDF) »

Guidelines for Family Group Decision Making in Child Welfare (PDF) »

Family Group Decision Making, A Solution to Racial Disproportionality and Disparities in Child Welfare (PDF) »

Increasing the Cultural Responsiveness of Family Group Conferencing (PDF) »

Family Group Conferencing: Building Partnerships with Kin in Washington State (PDF) »

Family Teaming: Comparing Approaches (PDF) »

Seen but Not Heard? Children and Young People’s Participation in Family Group Decision Making: Concepts and Practice Issues (PDF) »

Should His and Her Sides of the Family Be Invited to the FGC? (PDF) »

Family Group Decision Making: Incorporating Family Strengths, Concerns, and Resources in Developing a Safety Plan (PDF) »

Family Group Conference – Child’s Perspective (Video, 6:27) »

Why I had a Family Group Conference (Video, 7:13) »

Family Group Conference – From a mother’s Perspective (Video, 6:13) »

Family Group Conference Animation (Video, 2:00) »

The Family Group Conference by The Family Rights Group (Video, 9:50) »


Family Connections Research

Family Connections Oregon (FCO) was a three-year demonstration project funded by the Children’s Bureau in which a co-located coordinator provided a package of services – intensive family finding and engagement, family group conferencing, and follow-up - within the first 60 days of a child’s out-of-home placement. These practices are continuing in Oregon through a IV-E waiver demonstration project called Leveraging Intensive Family Engagement (LIFE).

Executive Summary (PDF) »

Key Outcome Evaluation Findings (PDF) »

Key Process Evaluation Findings (PDF) »

Rationale of Core Components of Combined Model (PDF) »

Continuum of Family Connections Meetings for Oregon Child Welfare Practice (PDF) »

Research Capsule #1: Timing of Family Finding (PDF) »

Research Capsule #2: Family Finding Lessons Learned (PDF) »

Research Capsule #3: Family Group Decion Making (FGDM) Lessons Learned (PDF) »

Research Capsule #4: Family Connection Demonstration Project: Supplemental Evaluation Report (PDF) »

Research Capsule #5: A Rigorous Evaluation of Family Finding in San Francisco (PDF) »

Research Capsule #6: Family Finding Iowa (PDF) »

Research Capsule #7: Family Finding Hawaii (PDF) »

Research Capsule #8: Summary of Recent Child Welfare Family Meeting Literature (2009-2014) (PDF) »

Research Capsule #9: Family Finding North Carolina (PDF) »

Resarch Capsule #10: Annotated Bibliography of Child Welfare Family Meeting Literature 2000-2014 (PDF) »

Family Voice in Oregon

Through funding from Family Connections Oregon- Morrison Child and Family Services developed a strategic plan for the creation of a Parent Advisory Council (PAC) to advise Oregon Department of Human Services at the state level on policy and implementation across a range of initiatives. Morrison was successful in bringing together 45 parent leaders from 7 counties in Oregon who participated in a Parent Leadership Training [designed by parents, for parents, by Parents Anonymous of Oregon Parent Mentor Program]. Resulting from this empowering training, 14 members were selected to ultimately become the PAC.

The PAC has quarterly strategic planning meetings with the Director of the Department of Human Services, Child Welfare. In particular, the PAC is assisting in identifying the challenges families are experiencing and the lack of services of or gap in services for families. The PAC also gives input and prepares comments for the Director regarding DHS' key initiatives and policy issues.  The Director of Parents Anonymous and DHS have identified funding for the next five years to maintain PAC with dedicated funding for a part-time Program Manager position. The PAC will make a meaningful contribution to improve overall outcomes for families involved with DHS in Oregon.

Visit Morrison Child and Family Services »