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 DHS News February 2014     


A Conferencing and Teaming update

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 providers.

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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