Experts believe that the most effective way to help children is to involve them and their families, friends and professionals in all decisions relating to out of home child placement. This case study examines how three jurisdictions — Cuyahoga County, Ohio; Denver County, Colorado.; and New York City — have woven a practice known as Team Decision Making (TDM) into standard child welfare procedures to create better, safer outcomes for children.
Team Decision making is a more effective approach to issues of child placement
Findings & Stats
Meetings that include at least seven of the eight “key elements” result in recommendations to keep a child at home in 70% of the cases.
Caregivers Decrease Change
A caregivers’ presence at TDM meetings made it 40% less likely that a placement change—particularly to a more restrictive setting—would be recommended.
Agency vs. Family
Team decision making helps defuse the traditional “agency-versus-family” dynamic that was standard protocol.
Of family-centered practice models, TDM may be the most radical departure from the single-caseworker tradition.
Sites practicing TDM were nearly 30% more likely to reunify children with their families within 12 months.
Short Stays with TDM
Lengths of stay in the chid welfare system are shorter when families are involved in placement decisions.
Statements & Quotations
By sitting down with families and really engaging them in a discussion of strengths and opportunities I think families walk away with a much more positive view of themselves, our agency and the whole process
– Lutonja Aikens, child protection manager, New York City Administration for Children’s Services
Nobody knows more about a family than family members themselves. So why not ask them?
– Jeri Wykaryasz, TDM meeting coordinator, Denver County Department of Human Services
Of family-centered practice models, TDM may be the most radical departure from the single-caseworker tradition. It is one thing to talk about family engagement in ongoing and routine matters related to child and family welfare; it is another to argue that families ought to be involved in making decisions during some of the most uncertain, crisis-filled moments of their lives.
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