Devereux Florida - Family Team Conference
In Circuit 5, serving Marion, Lake, Sumter, Citrus and Hernando counties, Kids Central, Inc. has contracted with Devereux Kids to coordinate and facilitate the engagement and involvement of community partners to build the local capacity for prevention and diversion since May 2005.Its purpose is to engage the larger community so that families in the 5th Judicial Circuit are more likely to be supported at the community and neighborhood level before there is harm to a child, mitigating the need for the child's and family's involvement in a publicly funded child welfare system. The services include facilitation at the community, neighborhood and family levels, engagement of people interested in enhancing prevention and diversion resources, and community education for awareness building and skills development.
Family Team Conferencing (FTC) is a solution-focused method that draws on the families past success in solving problems, determines circumstances when the family is currently able to solve the problem and develops the family’s vision for a preferred future. FTC utilizes principals to provide services to residents referred from Child Protective Investigators (CPI's) after the investigation determines that the safety risk to the child is low but the family is in need of support services in order to maintain the child in the home. The staff works with the residents to identify their support system, their strengths and their needs, and then develops with the family a plan that addresses immediate needs of the family and connects the residents to community support resources. The model used, facilitates a process in which the resident's strengths and needs are identified and put together to develop a support plan. The contract also provides financial resources that Devereux Kids’ staff uses to leverage community donations that are tied directly to families.
Devereux Kids offers both prevention, diversion and reunification family team conferences. Families who experience the removal of a child often need a variety of supports both formal and informal to experience a successful reunification. The family team conference process is used as a “best practice” to connect families to resources in their community. This process can occur prior to reunification or it may occur after reunification has been complete. The primary intent is to connect families to resources that will help them complete their reunification case plan, return the children to them as soon as possible and assist them in maintaining a safe, nurturing and stable environment for their children.
What Happens at a Family Team Conference?
- The Family Team Conference, or family meeting will consist of the family, others who could offer support to the family, (i.e., extended family, friends, teachers, co-workers, pastors, neighbors), community resources, the professional making the referral, and the Community Facilitator as well as any others that the family wishes to be there.
- The meeting will take place in a community location convenient to and comfortable for the family; often this will be the family home.
- The family care manager will attend the Family Team meeting to provide insight into the family, address progress made toward completion of the case plan and to participate in a family team process that will lead to a successful reunification and continued child safety.
- Using the strength-based Family Team Conferencing process, community facilitator will assist the family in identifying their strengths, their existing support systems and the identified needs. The family will develop an Individual Course of Action plan that will map out connections to resources that will assist them during the reunification process.
- Individual Course of Action plan will identify which participants will be responsible for a specific area or role within the plan, and a time frame for accomplishing these tasks will be included in the plan. Participants will also identify a primary contact person for the family (if not the Family Care Manager).
- Follow-up regarding Individual Course of Action plan will be the responsibility of the Family Care Manager during the period of post reunification supervision.
What families would benefit from a FTC?
- Families whose children have been in out-of-home placement for 0-6 months.
- Families whose children have been in out-of-home placement for more than six months with a high probability of reunification.
- Families whose children have been returned and are in need of ongoing supports to maintain the children in the home.
- Families who have successfully completed their case plan tasks, with no obvious behavioral changes or skill development regarding parenting their children.
How are Families referred to the Family Team Conference?
- Family Care Manager consults with the Family Care Manager Supervisor and completes a Family Team Conference Reunification referral.
- Reunification referral must be signed by the Family Care Manager and the Supervisor.
- Referral form will be submitted (fax or scan preferred) to Devereux Kids office in Bushnell, Florida.
- Community Facilitator will notify the Family Care Manager, after the referral is assigned, and arrange for an initial Prep interview with the Family Care Manager.
- After the prep interview with the Family Care Manager, the Community Facilitator will contact the family to determine their willingness to participate; if the family agrees, Community Facilitator will schedule a date and time to begin preparation for the Family Team meeting.
- Once the prep meetings have been held with the Family Care Manager and the family, the Community Facilitator will schedule the Family Team Conference.
- The Community Facilitator is responsible for coordinating the notification of all formal and informal community support resources that have been identified by the family and any others who will be invited to participate in the Family Team Meeting.
Benefits of Family Team Conferencing:
While Family Team Conferencing alone is not a reform, this process may be the most powerful single initiative a system can undertake. Used as an entry point for broad practice improvement, it reveals opportunities to join with families as allies in a shared vision of safety, permanency, well-being and adequate family functioning.
- Preventing abuse and neglect and speeding permanency.
- Preventing removal and placement disruptions.
- Strengthening engagement with famiies and older youth.
- Improving the quality of assessments about strengths and needs.
- Increasing the likelihood of matching the appropriate services to needs.
- Identifying kinship placement opportunities.
- Increasing the variety of options for solutions.
- Increasing the capacity to overcome barriers.
- Creating a system of supports that will sustain the family over time and provide a safety net after agency involvement ends.