Abstract: (see Poster Gallery) African, Caribbean, Black Family-Group Conferencing Project (ACB-FGC): A Culturally Responsive Program to Support ACB Children and Families Involved with Child Welfare (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

464P (see Poster Gallery) African, Caribbean, Black Family-Group Conferencing Project (ACB-FGC): A Culturally Responsive Program to Support ACB Children and Families Involved with Child Welfare

Saturday, January 14, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Lance McCready, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Bryn King, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Zina Mustafa, Project Coordinator, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Miya Kagan-Cassidy, BA, Research Assistant, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Clodagh Rawle-Davis, ACB-FGC Coordinator, Women's Health in Women's Hands, Toronto, ON, Canada
Background and Purpose

The disparate and disproportionate involvement of Black families in the child welfare system has been well-documented in the United States, but research in the Canadian context that examines the experiences of African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) Canadian families in child welfare is emerging. Recent studies in Ontario have found that Black families are represented in the child welfare system at disproportionate and disparate rates. Experiences of ACB youth, caregivers and workers also highlight differential and punitive treatment within the system. These findings have given rise to the development of the African, Caribbean, Black Family Group Conferencing Project (ACB-FGC), a Black-led, restorative, and culturally responsive innovation to support Black families at risk of, or already engaged in, the child welfare system in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The ACB-FGC model was developed through community-based research and was piloted in partnership with community organizations and child welfare agencies.


Interviews were conducted with ACB family members who participated in and completed the ACB-FGC process during the first two years of implementation. The interviews combined qualitative assessments of their experience with the ACB-FGC process. Interviews were audio-recorded with participant permission to ensure that feedback was as accurate as possible. We conducted a thematic analysis of qualitative responses, which focused directly on the family member’s perception of the intervention, the perceived impact of participation, and their understanding of the ways in which ACB-FGC shifted their relationship to and with their workers and with child welfare more broadly. The sample included 23 ACB family members, most of whom lived in low-income communities, particularly in the northwest region of Toronto. Families were referred for a variety of reasons including conflict regarding the child’s sexual orientation, guardians feeling overwhelmed and needing respite care, fathers looking for more involvement in their children’s lives, and guardians suffering from mental health concerns and needing support to care for their children.


Results indicated that family members were overwhelmingly positive about the restorative practices associated with the FGC process. Several themes emerged in the analysis. Family members described the ways in which the process created time and space to articulate the past harms of their troubled relationships with child welfare agencies, created transparency about decision-making and options for future planning, and allowed them the opportunity to develop their own responses to the “bottom lines” of the workers. These solutions included the family’s cultural values, resources, and relationships. Ultimately, the negotiations before and during the official FGC and the final agreement to the family’s plans shifted the power dynamics within the relationship between the workers and families, which restored a sense of voice and agency in their family life.

Conclusions and Implications

Ultimately, the results from the pilot evaluation indicate that participating in ACB-FGC was a restorative experience for ACB families. They described possibilities for reconciliation and healing through this intervention, which aligns with the broader goals of the project. Presenters will discuss further implications of adapting this model and opportunities for continuing to expand this work.