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Vol. 13, No. 1
December 2007

Enhancing Child and Family Team Meetings

“I am a big advocate for child and family team meetings. I was skeptical when they first came out, but now I think they are the greatest thing we’ve come up with since I’ve been in this business.” —Kirk Randleman

As one of three NC Assistant Attorneys General for Child Welfare, Kirk Randleman is responsible for supporting the NC Division of Social Services and the 30 western county departments of social services in connection with legal matters.

Needless to say, Randleman is fairly tough minded when it comes to child welfare practice. He does not use superlatives carelessly. So when he describes child and family team meetings as “the greatest thing” he’s seen since he began work in the field of child welfare nearly 20 years ago, he’s really saying something.

This high opinion of the value of child and family team meetings is also expressed in the US Department of Health and Human Services final report on North Carolina’s 2007 Child and Family Services Review (CFSR). This report praises NC’s child and family team meetings for the way they:

  • Engage children and families
  • Involve a variety of partners
  • Help agencies provide families with individualized services, and
  • Help families receive the services they need early on in their contact with DSS.

The report also states that child and family team meetings help promote permanency and send the message that child safety and permanency are community issues, not the concern of DSS alone.

From NC’s 2007 CFSR Final Report
  • “DSS has clearly adopted a family-centered approach to child welfare casework, which is particularly apparent in the implementation of the Child and Family Team Meetings.”

  • “The Child and Family Team model of intervention . . . and the MRS approach have resulted in connecting families with needed services early in the life of the case.”

  • “Stakeholders . . . expressed the opinion that parents and children are involved in case planning through the Child and Family Team meetings.”

  • Stakeholders also suggested that permanency, particularly via reunification, could be improved if parents were more involved in CFTs.

Given this, it is not surprising that child and family team meetings will play an important role in our state’s response to concerns raised by the CFSR. As outlined in preliminary drafts of its Program Improvement Plan, North Carolina plans to increase and enhance use of these meetings to help us do a better job involving children, youth, families, and the courts.

According to the Division, another lesson to be learned from the federal CFSR process is that when agencies fall short in following the child and family team model recommended by the state, outcomes for families and children are not as good. Therefore, the Division would like to see agencies improve fidelity to the child and family team model outlined in policy.

This issue of Practice Notes is a resource for agencies seeking to enhance and expand their use of child and family team meetings. We hope you find it helpful.

Contents of this Issue

Child Welfare CFT Meetings in North Carolina

North Carolina's CFTs: What the Research Says

Meeting Preparation Is Key

Overcoming Common Barriers to CFTs

What Families Want from CFTs

References for this Issue

Click here to read or print the entire issue as a pdf file


Additional resources related to this topic: