Vol. 16, No. 2 • May 2012

Books on the Nightstand
A CFT Resource You Should Know About

A book review by Becky Burmester

As a foster parent, I have attended many child and family team meetings (CFTs) without actually understanding what they were supposed to be about. After reading more about CFTs, I realize that while sometimes those meetings were very productive, too often I and other attendees left wondering why we had come out to accomplish nothing.

The good news? It need not be that way.

A Place for Voices
A Place for Voices: A Handbook of Family-Centered Practice, by William “Billy“ Poindexter, is a 100-page guide aimed at improving CFTs by clearly explaining the entire meeting process. Although written for social workers, their supervisors, and meeting facilitators, foster and kinship parents can learn from this book.

For example, I learned foster parents can ask that meetings be scheduled at times that work for them. In my experience, foster parents are sometimes an afterthought when it comes to scheduling CFTs. Meeting schedules should also make sense for children as well.

A Place for Voices gave me a better grasp of what I should expect from CFTs. I learned I could ask in advance what the purpose of the meeting is and expect a concise answer. (If a short, clear answer isn’t forthcoming, expect a frustrating meeting!)

This book also taught me that Joe and I could have done more to prepare the older children and teens we fostered for CFTs. Sharing the purpose of the meeting prior to the event would have given these young people a chance to gather their thoughts and ideas and helped them have a more positive CFT.

Another thing we did not do that we would do today is ask the family what we could do to support their relationship with their child.

It’s clear to me that CFTs can be an important tool in establishing good working relationships with everyone involved in the care of a child. But I now also know that effective meetings don’t just happen—they require training and planning.

A Place for Voices can help. The book, which sells for $25, can be obtained by contacting Billy Poindexter at 828/695-4521 or [email protected].

What’s on your nightstand? Contact me at 919/870-9968 or at [email protected] mindspring.com. And keep reading!


~ Family and Children's Resource Program, UNC-CH School of Social Work ~