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Family Team Meetings
For the purpose of keeping children safe, promoting children's well-being and supporting families.
Family Team Meetings bring together a family and interested people, like friends, neighbors and community members, with resources from child welfare, mental health, schools, and other helping agencies. These interested parties work together to learn what the family hopes to accomplish, set realistic and important goals, recognize and encourage the family's strengths, identify what the family needs, find solutions that build on the family's strengths and lead to necessary changes, make a plan for who will do what and when it will be done, and agree on the next steps. The purpose of Family Team Meetings is to keep children safe, promote children's well-being and support families.
STEPS IN USING THE FAMILY TEAM MEETING
- Building Trust. The facilitator explains the family team meeting process and answers any questions the family has about the meeting. The facilitator meets with the family to listen and help tell their story, understand their concerns and goals, and hear what they hope to accomplish at the meeting.
- Identifying Team Members. The family decides which supportive friends and community resources they would like to have at the meeting with the help of the facilitator.
- Preparing the Family Team. The facilitator works with team members to reach an agreement on how they will participate on the team and what they can offer to the family in the meeting. Team members will help identify the family's strengths and keep the meeting positive and productive.
- Working With the Team. During the meeting, the facilitator helps the team reach an agreement about the family's situation and opportunities, and create a strength-based plan for making agreed upon changes. All of this is done in an atmosphere of respect.
- Maintaining the Family Team. After the family team meeting, the facilitator will help the team carry out the plan and evaluate progress made on the anticipated changes. The family or team members can call for a follow-up team meeting at any time if any part of the plan looks like it is not working or other concerns develop.
WHAT A FAMILY TEAM MEETING LOOKS LIKE
- Welcome: Everyone introduces themselves.
- Ground Rules, Confidentiality, Family Goals and Family Perspective: The facilitator will talk about things to remember at the meeting, such as one person speaks at a time. The facilitator will emphasize confidentiality and provide an agreement that everyone must sign. The family will talk about the goals they want to work on and share their views on the goals.
- Identification of Strengths/Needs of the Family: Everyone invited will identify the strengths and needs of the family and how these strengths or needs relate to the family goals.
- Making a Family Plan: Everyone will list steps and resources that may be helpful in reaching the family plan goals. This plan will show what will be done, who will do it and when it will be accomplished. There will be some goals which must be part of the plan to ensure the child's safety.
WHY FAMILY TEAM MEETINGS?
- People are capable of change, and most people are able to find solutions within themselves, especially when they are helped in a caring way.
- All people and families have strengths. Strengths are discovered and affirmed when people are recognized, listened to, respected and encouraged.
- Families are more invested in plans they help create.
- A solution a family generates with a team is more likely to fit that family because the solution will respond to the family's unique strengths and needs.
- Supports like family and friends can be just as beneficial and necessary as professional and institutional supports.
- Family and friends provide love and caring in a way no formal helping system can.
- When you bring together a number of caring people during a family team meeting, you obtain energy which fuels the engine of change.