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DHS Conferencing and Teaming

DHS is adopting DHS Conferencing and Teaming as its common, universal case management practice. Implementation of Conferencing and Teaming is a key strategy in the system-wide adoption of a DHS Practice Model, integrating DHS services according to a shared vision and values, in order to promote the health, well-being and self-reliance of those served.  This common case practice of assessing, planning and integrating services fosters and supports the weaving of services around the particular needs of client/consumer participants.

In 2012, DHS adopted Family Team Conferencing (FTC) as the model of common practice. As implementation of FTC progressed, it became evident that DHS would benefit from its own unique family engagement model, rather than trying to fit all of needs into an existing model. DHS Conferencing and Teaming emerged from blending the best of FTC, Family Group Decision Making and High Fidelity Wraparound, three currently employed participant and family engagement models.

Conferencing and Teaming relies heavily on FTC for many of its main practices, but incorporates strengths from the other conferencing models. It combines initial engagement, assessment and planning through a family conference, with continuous service integration through teaming to help a participant meet his or her goals. It also includes the opportunity for private family time in every conference or meeting, should the family want it.

The conferencing portion of the model engages the participant and his or her natural support system in a planning process that manages risks and improves long-term functioning. Using existing records and assessments, the participant, family and all natural supports formulate a plan based on the perceived needs and goals of all involved. The main principle behind this conferencing portion of the model is that the participant benefits from decreased dependency and increased personal responsibility.

The teaming portion of the model recognizes that as a person’s situation changes, his or her plan may need alteration. The individual meets periodically with his or her natural supports and attending professionals to address events or circumstances that may call for a reassessment of current plans and strategies. The goal of this process is to build a strong support system that can continue to assist the individual after services end.

DHS envisions that all DHS direct services staff and human service providers will eventually utilize this integrated conferencing and teaming approach with consumers as their core case management practice. Any consumer who needs coordinated planning regardless of system involvement should have the option to participate.

DHS Conferencing and Teaming:

  • Is how direct workers will do business; it is not a referral service
  • Focuses on identifying and utilizing the strengths, needs and goals of consumers and families
  • Emphasizes natural supports and informal resources
  • Focuses on individualized needs of consumer rather than traditional services to be offered
  • Promotes the coordination of multiple plans into a single plan by serving as the primary planning meeting for consumers.
  • Is appropriate for all consumers in Allegheny County.  

DHS Conferencing and Teaming will be slowly phased in across DHS. Families currently being served through FGDM or High Fidelity Wraparound will continue under those models. But once Conferencing and Teaming is fully implemented, all new individuals needing services will be using this newly developed approach.

In 2013, DHS launched the DHS Conferencing and Teaming Institute-- a community-wide resource available to provide training, consultation and orientation regarding DHS Conferencing and Teaming in Allegheny County. Full implementation of the model is expected to take three to four years.

Additional Resources

A Conferencing and Teaming update, DHS News, February 2014

 pdf.gif DHS Conferencing and Teaming Brochure, October 2013

PDF Icon An Orientation to Conferencing and Teaming, April 2013

Conferencing and Teaming: Inside the Process, DHS News, April 2013

DHS Conferencing and Teaming, DHS News, March 2013

Family Team Conferencing, DHS News, July 2012

PDF Icon Family Team Conferencing, a report by The Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group

PDF Icon Family Teaming: Comparing Approaches, a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation/Casey Family Services