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Family group conferences in child welfare: the fit with restorative justice

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In recent decades, restorative practices have become an important aspect of service delivery in both youth justice and in the care and protection of children. Restorative justice, as an overarching term, has also been used to describe restorative practices, particularly with respect to the use of family group conferencing, across these two practice domains. There are, however, significant differences in these two areas of practice that create theoretical and philosophical tensions when attempting to incorporate them under a restorative justice banner. This article explores these tensions and concludes that while care and protection practice has restorative elements, significant differences set it apart from restorative justice. In arguing for greater clarity between the two at a theoretical and philosophical level, the paper encourages us to explore important opportunities to enrich each practice domain with the values and principles of both.
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Keywords: empowerment; family group conferences; restorative justice

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Ministry of Social Development, Wellington, New Zealand

Publication date: 2009-09-01

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