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Moving Forward: Implementing the 'Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children'

Government support of family group conferencing to enhance kinship care in the Marshall Islands

Focus 9: Gatekeeping: State involvement in informal care arrangements

The Republic of the Marshall Islands Government introduced the practice of family group conferencing for kinship networks as a key part of the process of making and implementing plans for the care and well-being of children and young people. Utilising the principles of cultural competence and strengths-based solutions, the Government recognised that the extended family must be part of the decision-making process for a child’s stability. As a result, the country’s adoption code mandates the Central Authority to meet with the extended family to explore solutions for the child.

The Islands’ child welfare services have integrated family group conferencing as a best practice, with the goal of empowering the extended family to have a voice in the placement of their young relatives. Early signs of this practice are encouraging. Extended families have generally been very willing to participate in the process and according to Central Authority staff, inter-country adoption placement has been prevented in about 70-80% of the cases through extended family involvement. 

See: Rotabi, K.S., Pennell, J., Roby, J.L. and Bunkers, K.M. (2012) Family Group Conferencing as a culturally adaptable intervention: Reforming intercountry adoption in Guatemala, International Social Work , 55 (3), 402-416. DOI: 10.1177/0020872812437229

International Social Service, Oak Foundation, SOS Children's Villages International, unicef, ATD Fourth World, Better Care Network, Family for every child, ngo group for the crc, PEPFAR, RELAF, Save the Children, USAID