Vol. 16, No. 2 • May 2012

SaySo Believes in the Promise of CFTs

by Lauren Zingraff

SaySo is a strong supporter of child and family team meetings. Through activities and events, we help young people in foster care use their voices to advocate for themselves. CFTs are a great way to ensure a young person’s voice is heard, respected, and valued.

SaySo has partnered with NC State University’s CFFACE (Center for Family & Community Engagement) to create a slideshow on child and family teams. You can access it by going to www.saysoinc.org and selecting “Presentations” from the menu.

This slideshow has been used at many SaySo events, including “CFT—What’s In It for Me?” a workshop at SaySo Saturday 2012. The workshop taught young people how to have a meeting where their voice matters and to which they can invite their supporters.

SaySo also collaborated with CFFACE to develop a youth-friendly brochure about CFTs. You can find it at http://cfface.chass.ncsu.edu/youthstudent/index.php.

All CFTs should be guided by family-centered principles. For the brochure, SaySo youth worked to ensure these principles would be easily understood by young people. They are:

  1. Everyone deserves respect. Respect yourself and everyone around you.
  2. You have two ears and one mouth. Listen more and talk less. Let everyone’s voice be heard.
  3. I have many strengths.
  4. To judge me is to pretend you’ve been in my shoes. Don’t judge me, and I won’t judge you, you feel me?
  5. It takes more than one hand to move a mountain so let’s work together to make my situation better.
  6. Trust takes time.
  7. No one knows me better than ME. WE ARE FAMILY, so we probably know more about ourselves than others, huh?
  8. It takes a village to raise a child.
  9. Honor & Respect my cultural differences. Your culture is important….so make sure the meeting fits who you are.
  10. Help my family and make sure I am safe. Your DSS worker’s role is to help your family and protect your safety.

Lauren Zingraff is SaySo Program Coordinator at ILR, Inc.

Youth in Care Reflect on the Impact of CFTs

Below are reflections from SaySo members on how their life would have been different if they had experienced CFT meetings while in foster care, as well as thoughts from those who have attended CFT meetings.

How would your life have been different if you had a CFT meeting?

I would have known that I had an opinion on my life that someone would listen to. —Nicole L.

It would have given me a chance to express what I want and how I feel. Then I wouldn’t have to wonder if people understood where I was coming from. —Kelley T.

I would have felt more comfortable expressing my wants and also would be more willing to do so. —Corae H.

Maybe communication would have been better. I’ve never had the chance of getting or having one. Maybe the tension in the family would have been better. I can’t really say because I’ve never experienced it. —Erica F.

How is your life better because you had a CFT meeting?

With CFT meetings, I was able to advocate for my own goals concerning foster care. In CFT meetings, my social worker, foster mom, biological mom, and others knew I was doing well in my foster home, and I did not have a desire to go home with my dad or mom. CFT meetings give foster youth a way to voice our personal goals and desires concerning foster care in general. —Roman R.

I have had a CFT meeting and I am going to continue to do so. It’s helping me because my support group is growing and helping me reach my goals. —Shaquanda G.

I go to CFT meetings every month. In my CFT meeting, my social worker, therapist, GAL, case worker, house parents, and brother all attend. I like my CFT meetings because they talk to me about my needs. CFT meetings make me feel important and that I matter. I can get my point across. —David R.

I believe my life is better from having CFT meetings because it allowed me to hear all new information about my case and to bring some things to the table. Not only did it allow me to voice my opinion but it allowed me to have a clear understanding of information that appeared a little unclear. —Donisha A.

Because I had a CTF meeting I knew what was going on in my life and what we were working on. It made me feel like I was not left in the dark, and that my “team” wanted to know how I felt and what I wanted to work on. —Jackie D.


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