Department for Community Based Services

Standards of Practice Online Manual

1.7 Family Team Meetings (FTM)

Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Department for Community Based Services
Division of Protection and Permanency
Standards of Practice Online Manual
Chapter:
Chapter 1-Fundamentals of Practice
Effective:
1/22/2014
Section:
1.7 Family Team Meetings (FTM)
Version:
4

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Legal Authority/Introduction

LEGAL AUTHORITY:

  • N/A

A family team meeting (FTM) is a tool for engagement used to assist a family in achieving safety, permanency and well-being outcomes and sustainable family changes. This meeting (FTM) is a meeting that includes family members and their informal support system, service providers, community representatives, the caseworker, the supervisor and possibly other resource staff from the child welfare agency and offers collaborative child protective planning that is effective, meaningful and enduring. The members of the family team convene to operate as a collaborative decision making and planning group, seeking to build shared understanding of differing points of view and how each fits into the total network of support and gain consensus on direction.  The family has the right and should be advised to invite individuals who are supports for them.  Participants of the meetings may change over time based on the changing needs of the family.

Family team meetings are held:

  • Ninety (90) days after a child enters out of home care;
  • Within thirty (30) days of reunification; and
  • At other critical junctures, as requested by the family or DCBS.

Procedure

When using a general family team meeting format model is used, the SSW:

  1. Documents in the case plan and running/service record:
    1. Efforts to assist the family in identifying relatives to attend the family team meeting;
    2. Efforts to assist the family in identifying internal Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) partners to attend the family team meeting to include:
      1. Family support;
      2. Child support; and
      3. Child care; and
    3. Efforts to assist the family in identifying community partners to attend the   family team meeting, to include:
      1. Formal partners such as:
        1. Mental health counselors;
        2. Medical health professionals;
        3. Legal representatives;
        4. Court personnel;
        5. Teachers/school community;
        6. Family resource and youth services centers (FRYSCs);
        7. Care providers (e.g. DCBS foster parents, PCP/PCC resource home/foster parents, relative or kinship care providers); and
      2. Informal partners such as:
        1. Friends,
        2. Neighbors, and
        3. Faith community, etc.; and
  2. Documents in the service recordings and contacts how the partnership is carried out in case planning and service delivery; 
  3. Explores the family’s vision for a safe future, which may be included in the case plan;
  4. Documents in the service recordings record when the family declines community partner involvement, to include:
    1. Why the family refuses assistance/involvement from community partners in case planning, including the SSW’s efforts to promote acceptance of community partner involvement; and
    2. The joint identity of potential community partners, which could make a significant contribution to the family;
  5. Along with the family, forms a team including identified fathers which will:
    1. Assist in developing an individualized family plan, based on the initial assessment;
    2. Implement the objectives and tasks included in the plan; and
    3. Continue to assess the family’s strengths and needs, and revise the plan accordingly until the aftercare plan is written and the case is closed;
  6. Along with the FSOS and family, considers modification to the case plan at the ninety (90) day FTM to reflect progress , or lack of progress toward their case plan goals and objectives;
    1. If the case plan is modified at the ninety (90) day FTM for an out of home care case an updated copy is provided to the family and a copy of the child/youth action plan (OOHC cases only) is provided to the resource parents or relative caregiver.

The Service Region Administrator (SRA) or designee:

  1. Approves any exception to a required FTM; and
  2. Documents the exception in the case plan, and service recordings.

OOHC Ninety (90) Day FTM

The SSW:

  1. Utilizes procedures for general FTMs in addition to the steps below: 
    1. Assesses progress made on the case plan tasks and objectives;
    2. Explores and evaluates all relatives as possible placements;
    3. Completes the DPP-110 90 Day Concurrent Planning Family Assessment in order to assess the strengths of the family;
    4. Evaluates the appropriateness of the child's current placement based on the circumstances of the case; and
    5. Adds a concurrent planning permanency objective ni the child/youth action section of the case plan, if the case meets criteria for concurrent planning (See SOP 4.17 Preparation for and Five (5) Day Conference).

The FSOS: 

  1. Attends the meeting, or designates attendance in their absence;
  2. Assures all relatives have been explored using the DPP-1275 Relative Exploration Form; and
  3. Facilitates if a facilitator is not available.

Reunification FTM

The SSW: 

  1. Utilizes procedures for general FTMs in addition to the steps below: 
    1. Invites all partners involved with the family, including identified fathers as outlined in SOP 4.14 Family Attachment and Involvement, and other supports to the FTM or obtains written documentation of the progress or lack of progress on the case plan tasks and objectives;
    2. Ensures appropriate services to the parents that will constitute reasonable efforts toward reunification are documented in service recordings;
    3. Follows procedures in SOP 30.22 Family Preservation for the referral process to secure reunification services;
    4. Documents in service recordings:
      1. A brief summary of safety assessment; and
      2. The roles and responsibilities of each partner for ongoing service delivery. 

The FSOS:

  1. Assures the SSW invites all appropriate parties to the FTM;
  2. Attends the meeting, or designates attendance in their absence; 
  3. Facilitates if a facilitator is not available; 
  4. Assists the SSW in completion of a safety assessment or the Family Reunification Assessment Tool (when utilized) with the family prior to the ninety (90) day FTM, and six (6) month case plan;
  5. Assists the SSW in interpreting safety concerns related to reunification.

    Practice Guidance

    • The FSOS's input in family team meetings is critical to guide case decisions and support the worker SSW therefore they should be in attendance except for unusual circumstances.  There may be situations in which a designee may be requested.
    • If the SSW or FSOS feels there is a need, a ninety (90) day FTM may be used as a tool for in home services cases.  Topics that should be discussed during this meeting are as follows:
      • The progress the family has made on case planning goals and tasks;
      • How the services currently in place are working and if other services are needed;
      • Any barriers that are impeding the family in completing goals and tasks;
      • What, if any, circumstances in the family have changed (i.e. job loss, birth of a child, new household members, etc.);
      • Any concerns or issues the family or SSW has; and
      • Whether modification of the case plan is necessary.
    • If the child is in the custody of a relative (including kinship care) the in home FTM should also cover the following: 
      • Adjustment of the child(ren) in the relative’s home and the stability of the placement;
      • Status of the kinship care application, if applicable;
      • Any problems or concerns regarding the transition of services for the children (i.e. medical, mental health, school, etc.);
      • Respite or self-care plan/needs of the relative;
      • Frequency and quality of visitation of the child(ren) with their parents and siblings (if not placed in the same home);
      • Permanency planning (i.e. upcoming court dates);
      • Status of the absent parent search;
      • Transition plan, if reunification is the short term plan; and
      • Any concerns or issues the relative has.
    • A family team meeting may also be convened if a placement change is necessary due to severe emotional or behavioral issues. 
    • Relative exploration should include searching for new relatives, as well as consideration of previously evaluated relatives providing the issues preventing placement have been resolved. 
    • When discussing the prospect of reunification, it is important to consider the following:
      • The child’s family of origin is the preferred permanent family for the child whenever possible and safe;
      • Most families are capable of caring for their children if appropriate support systems are in place; and
      • The involvement of family members and friends is a strength.
    • It is critical to ensure early and consistent contact between the child and family in order to prepare for successful and lasting reunification. 
    • Throughout the child’s out of home care placement, opportunities should be consistently offered and pursued to promote reconnection and maintain bonds with family. 
    • Preparing the child, family and/or caregiver for reunification is important when implementing a reunification plan. 
    • It is not uncommon for children and caregivers to experience feelings of ambivalence, apprehension, anxiety and grieving, but these natural responses should not negatively impact the decision to return home.  
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