A Closer Examination of Family Group Decision Making in
FGDM approach could increase the caregiver’s sense of
responsibility and commitment to his or her extended family, despite
the lack of financial incentives.
Similar to tribal identity inspiring cohesive families and clans
in Ethiopia, the FGDM model takes into account the importance of
family and culture and uses the strengths within the community itself
to benefit each child. Although there is still more research to be done
to better understand the effects of FGDM and how it can more
successfully be adapted in specific communities, it is a novel and
optimistic approach seeking to enhance the cohesiveness of our own
communities. Additionally, implementing the FGDM model would
require extensive supervision, increased time, and the interest of the
extended family and community. However, by strengthening these
communal bonds and mutual accountability, we shift attention away
from the individual as the primary social unit and toward the
community and family as a whole. This community-based approach
to care is similarly what has allowed American Indian and Alaskan
Native cultures to maintain their own sense of family and tradition
within the United States.
Both Ethiopian tribes and Native American and Alaskan
Indian communities value their culture and heritage, and rely on
traditional systems of kinship care to preserve their familial history.
In the U.S., this concept can often get lost in the notion of a “melting
pot,” where the culture and heritage of each individual child are often
overlooked in the child welfare system. Thus, an FGDM approach to
child welfare would be an effective way to involve and empower the
extended family network, as well as increase kinship placements. The
FGDM model recognizes and empowers the family as a legitimate
and superior unit for caring for an orphaned child, in contrast to the
common perception in the U.S. of kinship care as an imposed duty.
Additionally, strengthening communities and family cohesiveness
will improve each child’s sense of belonging, culture, and values.
This approach is precisely the perspective taken by Ethiopian tribal