Family-centered practice is a way of working with families, using both formal and informal ways so as to help them to care for and protect their children. It focuses on the needs and welfare of children within the context of their families and communities.
This practice analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of family relationships and tries to build on the strengths to achieve the required outputs. It tries to minimize or workaround the weaknesses and provide necessary support to overcome them. Family-centered practice helps families by advocating for improvement in their living conditions, by providing them the necessary support, stabilizing those in crisis, reunifying those who are separated, building new families, and connecting families to the resources that will sustain them in the future. Basically, this practice form is based on the premise that the best place for children to grow up is in families and providing services that engage, involve, strengthen, and support families is the most effective approach to ensuring children's safety, permanency, and well-being. (Tollefson, 1999)
A successful practice requires mutual trust, respect, honesty, and open communication between parents and family support workers. Families should be involved in the development of policy, program design, and evaluation, and they should be encouraged to make their own decisions in selecting services for themselves and their children. Family and child assessment is strengths-based and solution-focused. Services are community-based and build upon informal supports and resources.
Family-centered and community-based principles are at the heart of a number of practice approaches being implemented across program areas and service systems. These approaches are used at different points in the helping process for purposes of assessment, case planning, and decision-making, and to address identified needs and concerns. Some are developed to address a specific population, such as substance-involved families or families of prisoners. The Key components of family-centered practice include:
Strengthening the capacity of families to function effectively
Providing specific and individualized, flexible, and relevant services for each family depending on their unique needs.
Support the family by helping them make conscious and wise decisions for the betterment of their condition.
Ensuring the safety and well-being of all family members by understanding and helping them meet their specific needs.
Providing help and support by linking them with community-based networks of supports and services which are comprehensive and culturally relevant.
APPROACHES TO FAMILY CENTRIC PRACTICE
Some of the important approaches to family oriented practice are :
1. Family group decision-making --- This approach requires that all the family members are brought together to discuss and make suggestions and make decisions about how to care for their children and develop a plan which is most suitable for their children and family. It is a well known fact that people participate in any process only when they are genuinely interested or when they are the part of decision making process. Thus it is very important to allow the family to make their own conscious decisions rather than imposing any decisions on them.
2. Family-Centered, Neighborhood-Based Foster Care : This approach