Department for Community Based Services

Standards of Practice Online Manual

1.6 Quality Engagement for Successful Partnership

Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Department for Community Based Services
Division of Protection and Permanency
Standards of Practice Online Manual
Chapter 1-Fundamentals of Practice
1.6 Quality Engagement for Successful Partnership

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Legal Authority/Introduction



Quality worker visits establish and maintain mutually beneficial partnerships with families that sustain their interest and commitment toward change while being culturally responsive to the diverse needs of families in the course of completing professional activities.
  • A quality worker visit is a contact between a worker and a child/parent/caregiver. In a quality visit, the worker:
    • Is respectful;
    • Elicits the family’s participation;
    • Is strengths based;
    • Is change oriented;
    • Is empathetic;
    • Looks at the person rather than the problem;
    • Fosters a good relationship;
    • Actively listens;
    • Encourages honest dialogue;
    • Explores possible solutions;
    • Uncovers informal support systems;
    • Reflects the reason of the visit and mutual goals moving forward;
    • Recognizes efforts and achievements;
    • Suspends judgement;
    • Assesses family needs;
    • Is empowering and encouraging; and
    • Assesses safety/risk with children/parents/caregivers.
Engagement is obtained through conversation, not through interviews with the family members. Careful listening during the engagement process will often result in the early identification of primary family needs, the family’s long-term vision, and potential short-term goals, which may become objectives used in the family’s case plan.



The SSW completes the following tasks prior to and during an FTM or case planning conference in order to engage the family:

The SSW:

  1. Ensures that the family has input into the meeting time/date/location; 
  2. Makes every effort when scheduling a face-to-face meeting to accommodate the family's schedule and impose as little disruption to work schedules as possible;
  3. Considers non-traditional hours for meeting including before and after hours or during lunch;
  4. Offers options such as participation by conference call or by written correspondence outlining progress or lack of progress in obtaining negotiated goals;
  5. Explains the purpose of the meeting and the role of all of the participants;
  6. Encourages the family to actively participate in problem solving:
  7. Gives family members time to talk about their concerns and issues;
  8. Listens to the family's concept of what is important;
  9. Explores the family’s vision for a safe future, which may be included in the case plan, to encourage co-ownership;
  10. Recognizes and builds upon the family's strengths; and
  11. Partners with families and other staff and uses engagement skills that focus on strengths of the family to build consensus.


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