Team decision making in regards to at risk-families involves supportive individuals who collaborate together to making decisions that will affect a child in the protection of the social welfare system placement. Batterson, et al, (Batterson, et.al, 2007, p.5) states, “Team decision making utilizes the strength based resources of the family, extended family, and community in making decisions of placement for at-risk children who are in the care of child welfare.” This approach is important because it allows for individuals to come together to discuss and collaborate on placement solution in placing a child. In collaboration with the social worker those involved with team decision making are able to provide valuable information, resources and placement solutions that child welfare alone could not provide.
Values and Beliefs of Team Decision Making
The underlying values and beliefs of team decision making below are as stated by Edward & Sagatun-Edward (Edward, J.L & Sagatun-Edward I, 2007, p. 4) according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation are:
▪ Families have strengths and can change – families have the tools and resources that are needed in making decisions that can effect change. ▪ We must set up opportunities for families to show their strengths –families must be provided with opportunities to demonstrate their strengths in making decisions ▪ A group can usually be more effective in making good decisions than an individual – when a group collaborate there is an influx of ideas and solutions rather than one person trying to figure out a solution. ▪ Families are experts about themselves – families know the inner working of the family dynamics and can relate to others about what is going on than someone else. They know the beliefs and values that are with their unique family structure.
▪ When families are included in the decision making, they are capable of identifying their own needs and strengths – Instead of outsiders trying to determine and identify the family’s needs the family is able voice their needs as they identify the needs of the family and what they can contribute through their strengths. ▪ Members of the family’s own community add value to the process by serving as natural allies to the family and as experts regarding the community’s resources – Relatives, friends, community leaders are valuable in TDM because they bring a different perspective in supporting the family with their resources.
Team Decision Making Models
Family Group Conferencing – FGC is a model that is used to bring together a child, an immediate or extended family member and a child protection professional to resolve family issues in regards to child protection. These individuals will air out issues, come to a resolution of issues and develop a plan for future action ((Huntsman, 2006, p.1) Child Protection Mediation – CPM is a collaborative problem solving process involving an unbiased person who facilitates constructive mediation and communication between parents, lawyers, and child protection professionals in coming to an agreement on how to resolve concerns when a child is alleged to have been victim of maltreatment (Guidelines for Child Mediation, 2011, p.5). Wraparound Services – Wraparound is an intensive, comprehensive model of engaging with children, youth, and their families who have complex needs so that the child or youth will not be uprooted from their homes or communities and in the process helping them to realize their hopes and dreams (Wraparound Basics, 2012).
Family Finding – Developed by Kevin A. Campbell is a model that offers techniques to track down and involve relatives of children currently displaced out of there natural home environment. The goal of Family Finding is to connect each child with a family member or relative, so that every child may benefit from the lifelong connections that only a family provides (National Institute For Permanent Family Connectedness, 2012).
Emancipation Conferences – An emancipation conference brings the youth together with family, professionals, and significant individuals in the youth’s life to establish a plan for the time when the youth will reach adulthood and age out of the child welfare system protection (Edward, J.L & Sagatun-Edward, D. I, 2007, p. 9).
Advantages of Team Decision Making
Team decision making in regards to at-risk families has many advantages. Some advantages according to American Humane Association are: FGDM keeps children safe, result in more permanent placements, decrease the need for foster care, maintain family bonds, and increase family well-being (American Humane Association, 2010, p.1). Also according to De La Cruz, TDM relieves the caseworker from making difficult decision on own and when family members are allowed to get involved with the decision making process they are more apt in participating in decisions that are made in order to keep family intact (De La Cruz, L, 2007, p. 30).
Barriers of Team Decision Making
According to Edward & Sagatun-Edward some barriers to team decision making is the capital it would take to implement the different team decision making models, the need for further staff training and development, and would add more stress to already overworked social workers (Edward, J.L & Sagatun-Edward, D. I, 2007, p. 10). Although, these are barriers Edward & Sagatun-Edward mention in the long run the cost would be nominal when considering the cost of keeping children in foster care and in the criminal justice system when they reach adulthood.
Team Decision Making Impact schools
Team decision making may impact schools in regards to working with an at-risk student by bringing together the student guardian or trusted friend, teacher and school social worker or psychologist to collaborate and make a decision on what steps need to be taken to ensure basic needs and educational needs are being met. For example, a student who suffers from oppositional defiant disorder risk being put into the juvenile court system due to truancy issues, risk being tossed out of his home and is on the verge of failing all of his courses. Team decision making can be utilized to make decisions on getting the youth on the right path.
This would involve collaborating with the youth, family members or relative, school psychologist or social worker to discuss the underlying issues of what is really going on with the student and then coming to a consensus on a decision and plan of action to improve the student situation. This is just one way team decision making can impact schools. The important thing to remember is that in order to ensure a successful team decision method is effective is to have a strength-based mindset that involves the belief that everyone has strength and resources they can contribute to solve a solution. If this is taking into consideration within the school system there would be more freedom to collaborate in helping to solve difficult decisions.
Batterson, M., Crampton, D., Crea, T., Harris, F., Abramson Madden, A., Usher, L., & Williams, J. (2007, February). Implementing Family to Family. Retrieved December 17, 2012, from http://www.unc.edu/~lynnu/ImpleF2F.pdf Child Welfare Policy Briefing: Family Group Decision Making. (2010, August 2). American Humane Association, 1(3), 1. Retrieved from http://www.americanhumane.org/assets/pdfs/children/advocacy/111th-fgdm.pdf
De La Cruz, L. (2009). Implementation and Effectiveness of Team Decision Making In Sacramento County Child Welfare (Master’s thesis). Retrieved December 17, 2012, from http://csus-dspace.calstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10211.9/1049/LDCOMPLETETHESIS.pdf?sequence=4 Edwards, J.L. & Sagatun-Edwards, D.I. (2007). The transition to group decision making in child protection cases: Obtaining better results for children and families. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 58(1). Retrieved from http://nc.casaforchildren.org/files/public/community/judges/July_2011/EDWARDS_Group_Decision_Making.pdf Guidelines for Child Protection Mediation (2011, November). Retrieved December 17, 2012, from http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/CPM_Guidelines.pdf Huntsman, L. (2006, July). Family group conferencing in a child welfare context. Retrieved December 17, 2012, from http://www.community.nsw.gov.au/docswr/_assets/main/documents/research_family_conferencing.pdf What is Family Finding and Permanency (2012). In National Institute For Permanent Family Connectedness. Retrieved December 17, 2012, from http://www.familyfinding.org/ Wraparound basics (2012). In National