DHS News February 2014
A Conferencing and
The Department of Human Services (DHS) continues its rollout
of Conferencing and Teaming as the standard practice model for intake of new
cases through the Office of Children, Youth and Families (CYF).
Beginning Feb. 1, all new cases at the Mon Valley CYF Regional
Office are employing Conferencing and Teaming, said Tracey Nichol, Program
Manager for the Conferencing Team. The
office joins the North and Central Regional Offices in using Conferencing and Teaming,
an approach to case management that is part of DHS’s commitment to the federal
Child Welfare Demonstration Project and continuing integration of service
delivery to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
Conferencing and Teaming allows families to devise solutions
by convening everyone in the life of a person needing services to forge a
Family Plan, which is recorded and accessed via the Key Information Data System
(KIDS). (A typical Conferencing and Teaming session was previously chronicled
in DHS News.)
The Office of Community Relations (OCR) continues to work
with the Conferencing
and Teaming Institute by developing additional articles and informational
materials to be used by anyone touched by the new planning method. Eventually, Conferencing
and Teaming will be in widespread use throughout DHS offices and among its
Karen Rohaly, Peer Coach, is working with Michele Huber, a
videographer who joined OCR in the fall, to devise an informational video about
Conferencing and Teaming that will educate all parties involved and demonstrate
the process. The focuses of the video and distribution channels are now being identified.
Tracey said rolling out Conferencing and Teaming has
necessitated some changes in job titles and duties. Peer Coaches are
responsible for training caseworkers as facilitators of the case practice
model. Family Group Managers who used to be in charge of Family Group Decision
Making, which is playing a less prominent role in child welfare, will be
trained to be Conferencing and Teaming Peer Coaches.
She and Karen explained that Conferencing and Teaming administrators
want to ensure each CYF office has an on-site expert in the practice. “We knew
we needed a manager in each office to keep fidelity to the model,” Karen said.
Additionally, caseworkers are increasingly using laptops in
the field as they develop Family Plans through Conferencing and Teaming. As of
late January, the number of conferences used in cases numbered “in the
hundreds,” Tracey said.
Besides CYF offices, three providers are using Conferencing
and Teaming for cases that are referred to CYF but for various reasons not
accepted. Those providers are Small Seeds Development, Macedonia Family and
Community Enrichment Center (FACE), and Touching Families Inc.
And, as part of the
plan to incorporate Conferencing and Teaming beyond child welfare, OCR case
managers who work with homeless individuals are also being trained in the new
model. Efforts are underway to assess how to apply Conferencing and Teaming to
other populations served by DHS as well.
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