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DHS News May 2014     


Family Group Decision Making continues alongside Conferencing and Teaming

Just as the needs of the families and children served by the Office of Children and Youth (CYF) vary, so do the methods of assisting them.

That’s the message Walter H. Smith Jr., PH.D, Deputy Director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families, is promoting as the CYF office undergoes change and modification in its approach to helping families.

Key among those changes has been implementing the Conferencing and Teaming  approach to case management, which continues to be rolled out and is expected to be in all CYF Office’s by year’s end.   Plans are in the works to begin introducing Conferencing and Teaming to some program and DHS offices this year as well.

Meanwhile, Family Group Decision Making, a long-time practice of family engagement within child welfare, will remain a key practice for some cases that are not accepted for service.

Such cases, which do not require service integration and where it is determined families can effectively manage their plans, are referred to providers Small Seeds Development, Touching Families, and Macedonia Family and Community Enrichment Center. They can be addressed with Family Group Decision Making, if the provider and family believe that would be helpful, or Conferencing and Teaming can be used if that is found to be appropriate.

“The three agencies will have a choice as to how to work with the family,” Walter said.

The difference between the two engagement approaches is primarily the amount the oversight needed and provided over the long run. Under both forms, the family plan is developed with input from not only family, but also from all people who can bring support; with Family Group Decision Making, one or two follow-up meetings are required. Conference and Teaming requires a commitment to a more structured schedule of multiple meetings.

Agencies that use Family Group Decision Making have a deep knowledge of the practice that will continue to be valued by DHS in its mission to help families and children, even as some practices change, Walter said.

“We will be tapping their history of using Family Group Decision Making to enhance the whole system,” Walter said. “It’s still an essential part of what we do.”

Learn more

For more about Conferencing and Teaming, read this DHS Newsletter article.



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