engaging families in case planning

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This CE course provides child welfare professionals with knowledge on: engaging families in case planning; caseworker strategies that support family engagement in case planning; agency strategies that support family engagement in case planning; findings in the Child and Family Services Reviews; and state and local examples.

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  • Child Welfare Information GatewayChildrens Bureau/ACYF1250 Maryland Avenue, SWEighth FloorWashington, DC 20024800.394.3366Email: [email protected]://www.childwelfare.govUse your smartphone to

    access this bulletin online.

    STATE MANAGERS SERIES

    BULLETIN FOR PROFESSIONALS

    September 2012

    Engaging Families in Case Planning

    Whats Inside:

    Basicsofengagingfamiliesincaseplanning

    Caseworkerstrategiesthatsupportfamilyengagementincaseplanning

    Agencystrategiesthatsupportfamilyengagementincaseplanning

    FindingsintheChildandFamilyServicesReviews

    Stateandlocalexamples

    Successfullyinvolvingfamilymembersincaseplanningmaybethemostcriticalcomponentforachievingpositiveoutcomesinchildwelfarepractice.Researchsuggeststhatwhenfamiliesareengagedandsupportedtohaveasignificantroleincaseplanning,theyaremoremotivatedtoactivelycommittoachievingthecaseplan.Additionally,familiesaremorelikelytorecognizeandagreewiththeidentifiedproblemstoberesolved,perceivegoalsasrelevantandattainable,andbesatisfiedwiththeplanninganddecision-makingprocess(Antle,Christensen,vanZyl,&Barbee,2012;Healy,Darlington,&Yellowlees,2011;Dawson&Berry,2001;Jones,McGura,&Shyne,1981).

  • Engaging Families in Case Planning http://www.childwelfare.gov

    2This material may be freely reproduced and distributed. However, when doing so, please credit Child Welfare Information Gateway. Available online at http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/engaging_families.cfm

    ChildwelfareprofessionalsattheState,Tribal,andlocallevelsincludingadministrators,supervisors,andfrontlineworkerscanusethisinformationtoestablishpoliciesandencouragepracticesthatsupportfamilyengagementincaseplanning.

    Collaborativecaseplanningoccurswhenthecaseworkerseffortseffectivelyandcontinuouslyengagefamilymembersandothersasappropriateincaseplanningactivities,includingthefollowing:

    Gatheringandassessinginformationinordertovisualizethefamilysystem

    Matchingstrengthsandneedswithsolutionsandservices

    Identifyingbehaviorsandconditionsthatneedtochange

    Reviewing,tracking,andacknowledgingprogressregularly

    Determiningreadinessforkeycasetransitionpoints,suchasreunification

    Preparingforcaseclosure

    Marshalingsupportsforrelapseprevention,asneeded

    Basics of Engaging Families in Case Planning

    Thecaseplanisalivingdocumentthatshouldreflectongoinginputfromthefamilyandbereviewedandupdatedthroughoutthelifeofthecase.Caseworkersshouldexpecttoengagethefamilyfortheinitialdraftingoftheplanaswellasthroughouttheplanningandimplementationprocess.Familyparticipationhelpsensurebuy-infromthefamilyandalsoaddsahigherdegreeofaccountabilityforthefamily.

    Thefollowingaretipsthatcanhelpcaseworkerscoordinateacaseplanmeetinginawaythatenhancesfamilyparticipation:

    Assistfamilymemberswithpracticalissuesthatmaypreventthemfromattending,suchaschildcareandtransportation.

    Takeintoaccountfamilymembersotherobligations,suchasemployment,whenschedulingmeetings.

    Ensurethatthephysicalenvironmentforthemeetingiswelcoming(e.g.,enoughspaceforallmembers,accessibilityforindividualswithdisabilities).

    Invitepeopleidentifiedbythefamilyasbeingpartofitssupportsystem,whichmayincludeotherfamilymembersorindividualsexternaltothefamily,suchasfriends,teachers,andclergy.

    Minimizethepossibilityoffamilymembersreceivingunanticipatedinformationduringthemeeting(e.g.,communicateinformationregularlytofamilymembers).

    Helpthefamilymeetconcreteneeds(e.g.,housing,food).

    Resolveacutebehavioralorhealth-relatedissuesthatmayimpedefamilyparticipation(e.g.,providehousingassistance,ifneeded).

  • Engaging Families in Case Planning http://www.childwelfare.gov

    3This material may be freely reproduced and distributed. However, when doing so, please credit Child Welfare Information Gateway. Available online at http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/engaging_families.cfm

    Preparethefamilyforthemeetingbyreviewingitemssuchasexpectations,rolesandresponsibilities,andgoals.

    Ifthechildisunabletoparticipateorwillotherwisenotbepresent,incorporatehim/herthroughothermeans,suchasaphotographorartwork(Healy,Darlington,&Yellowlees,2011;Dawson&Berry,2001).

    Thefollowingareseveralexamplesofapproachescaseworkerscanusetoenhancefamilyengagementincaseplanning.

    Using Supportive BehaviorsAnumberofstudieshavesuggestedthatthefollowingcaseworkerbehaviorsmaysupportacollaborativerelationship,includingbetterengagingfamiliesincaseplanning:

    Listeningtoandaddressingissuesthatconcernthefamily

    Havinghonestdiscussionsaboutthenatureofthecaseworkersauthorityandhowitmaybeused(thisisrequiredbyCAPTA)

    Sharingopenlywithfamilymemberswhattoexpect,particularlyregardingcourtissuesandtimelines

    Balancingdiscussionsofproblemswiththeidentificationofstrengthsandresources

    Caseworker Strategies That Support Family Engagement in Case Planning

    Workingwiththefamilysdefinitionsoftheproblems(ratherthanthecaseworkersdefinition)

    Settinggoalsthataremutuallyagreeduponandmaybegeneratedprimarilybythefamilyandstatedintheirlanguage

    Focusingonimprovingfamilymembersskillsratherthanprovidinginsights

    Providingfamilymemberswithchoiceswheneverpossible

    Gettingacommitmentfromfamilymembersthattheywillengageinmutuallyidentifiedtasks

    Regularlyspendingtimewiththefamilydiscussinggoalsandprogress

    Recognizingandpraisingprogress(Dawson&Berry,2001;Trotter,2002;Dawson&Berry,2002)

    ThiswasthefirsttimesomeoneaskedmewhatIthought. Mother, responding to a satisfaction survey designed to elicit family members reactions to being involved in the child welfare system

  • Engaging Families in Case Planning http://www.childwelfare.gov

    4This material may be freely reproduced and distributed. However, when doing so, please credit Child Welfare Information Gateway. Available online at http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/engaging_families.cfm

    Visualizing and Describing the Family SystemDevelopingavisualizationordescriptionofthefamilysystemcanhelpcaseworkersgaininsightabouthowafamilyviewsitselfandhelpestablishthefamilyasanexpert.Inthisapproach,thecaseworkerasksthefamilytoshareinformationaboutfamilyrelationships,patternsoffamilyinteractions,andactivecommunitysupportsandstressors.Thefamilymayalsowanttoreflectonfamilyevents,someofwhichmayhavealastingsignificanceonfamilyandindividualdynamics.Thisinformationcanhelpthefamilyandcaseworkerdevelopamorethoroughcaseplan.Thefollowingarethreeexamplesofthisapproach:

    Genograms,whichoutlinefamilyrelationships,multigenerationalpatterns,andtherolesplayedbyindividualfamilymembers

    Ecomaps,whichdescribethefamilysperspectiveofitselfinrelationshiptothewidercommunityandcanhelpthecaseworkerandfamilyexploreimportantspiritualandculturalconnections

    Familytimelines,whichhighlightlifeeventsthatarenoteworthytofamilymembers

    Foradditionaldetailsaboutcreatingandusingthesetools,theMissouriDepartmentofSocialServicesChild Welfare Manual (2011)offersbriefdescriptions:http://www.dss.mo.gov/cd/info/cwmanual/section7/ch1_33/sec7ch25.htm

    Instituting Family Teaming ModelsFamilyteamingmodelsmayincludeavarietyoffamilygroupconferencing,decision-making,andteamingapproaches.Althoughthespecifictenetsofeachapproachvary,thebasisofeachisabeliefthatfamiliesshouldbeinvolvedinastrengths-based,solution-focusedteamthatvaluesthefamiliesvoiceandfocusesonthechildssafety,permanency,andwell-being(Annie.E.CaseyFoundation&CaseyFamilyServices,2009).Theseapproachesbringtogetherateamoffamilymembers,fictivekin,andotherindividualswhoaresignificanttothefamilyinordertodiscusstheissues,consideralternativesolutions,makedecisions,anddevelopaplan.Usingfamilyteamingapproachescanstrengthenfamilyrelationships,preventunnecessaryplacementandplacementdisruption,andhelpcaseworkersidentifyandnurtureasystemoffamilysupports(Crea&Berzin,2009;AmericanHumane,n.d.).

    Formoreinformationaboutfamilyteamingmodels,visittheChildWelfareInformationGatewaywebsite:http://www.childwelfare.gov/famcentered/overview/approaches/family_group.cfm

    Thefamilygroupconferencingprocessprovidesavenueofeffectivecommunication,inaneutralplace,whereprivatefamilytimeisrespected.Ifeltthisprocesshelpedtobringourfamilytogether. Family member commenting on the experience of participating in a family group conference organized around a child welfare case

  • Engaging Families in Case Planning http://www.childwelfare.gov

    5This material may be freely reproduced and distributed. However, when doing so, please credit Child Welfare Information Gateway. Available online at http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/engaging_families.cfm

    Incorporating Family FindingFamilyfindingincludesidentifyingandsearchingforfamilymembersandotherimportantpeopleinthelivesofchildreninfostercareandthenengagingtheminthecasedecision-makingprocess,includingthedevelopmentandfulfillmentofcaseplans.Familyfindingcanincreasethenumberofindividualswhomaybeabletoprovidelegalandemotionalpermanencyforthechild,areawareofthecaseplan,andcanassistthechildandfamilyinachievingcasegoals.Familyfindinginitiallywasviewedasatooltoenhancepermanencyforyouthagingoutoffostercare,butmanyagenciesarenowusingitforallchildrenincare(Malm&Allen,2011).

    Formoreinformationaboutfamilyfinding,visittheNationalResourceCenterforPermanencyandFamilyConnectionswebsectiononFamilySearchandEngagement:http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/info_services/family-search.html

    Employing the Solution-Based Casework ApproachSolution-BasedCasework(SBC)isachildwelfarepracticemodelbuiltonthreetheoreticalfoundations:familylifecycletheory,relapseprevention/cognitivebehavioraltherapytheory,andsolution-focusedfamilytherapy(Antleetal.,2012).ThetheoreticalfoundationsofSBCestablishaframeworkofcasepracticewithfamiliesbasedonfullpartnershipwitheveryfamilyasanessentialgoal,partnershipsf