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Vol. 16, No. 2 • May 2012

Who Would You Invite to a CFT, and Why?

In the last issue we asked young people in foster care “Who would you invite to a child and family team meeting (CFT), and why ?” Here’s what they had to say.

—John McMahon, Editor

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First Place

by Donisha, age 17

A child and family team meeting is for updates and to let anything new be said. A child can arrange his/her own CFT meeting if he/she feels it is necessary. The child is able to invite whomever they please—it could be anyone from relatives, teachers, counselors, to preachers.

I would make sure I had all the right people there to make things run smoothly. My social worker, her supervisor (sometimes), my foster mom, and a facilitator would be there.

For a CFT to actually feel like a CFT, my sisters and my Guardian ad Litem (GAL) volunteer would have to be there. Why? Simple. If there is any unpleasant thing said, I want other people such as my sisters to hear it so that they know exactly who said it and what it means. I want my GAL there to make sure I understand everything that is being said and my opinion is heard at the table. Not only does she speak up for me in court, but she does it whenever she feels like I might not be able to say everything that I want to, which is why she is a necessary person to my CFT.

Lastly, I want a facilitator to be there. Yes, they say a facilitator should always be there, but there have been times where the only one facilitating my meeting was my GAL. I believe in order to have order while unpleasant things are said, someone should be there to make sure everyone understands and my voice is heard.

Donisha’s essay won first prize, for which she was awarded $100.

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Second Place

by Alexandria, age 12

I would invite Jessica. We use Bffnmwhil. It means Best Friends Forever, No Matter What Happens In Life. . . .

I would like my grandma to come because she has had my brother since he was seven months old. She was also there for me. . . .

I would like a couple of my good friends from my home town to come. . . . Randy and Lisa took care of me when my stepdad’s power was cut off. They love me with all of their hearts.

I would like all these people that care about me to come to my team meetings because I know a lot about them and they know a lot about me, such as my likes, my dislikes, and mostly my whole life, because I trusted them a lot. I also felt safe around them and I knew that they trusted me and felt safe around me.

Alexandria’s essay won second prize, for which she was awarded $50.

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Third Place

Lazavia, age 10

I would like my aunt to come because I may go live with her in the future. She would also want to know how I am doing here and learn more about me. She cares about me and takes me places and I love her. She is a wonderful aunt. . . .

I would like my teacher to come because she knows how I am doing at school and what I need help on. She knows what I love to do in school. She is a wonderful teacher. She helps us with everything and can help make decisions.

Thank you for considering who I would like to come to my team meeting. These are the important people who can work together to make the best plans for my future.

Lazavia’s essay won third prize, for which she was awarded $25.

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Melanie, age 14

My social worker. She keeps her word. She is always there for me when I need her. She is compassionate and kindhearted. I know she will help me get my goals met.

I’ve known her for a year and a half. I know she will listen to what I have to say. She will give out her opinions and help me accomplish my goals. I have grown a healthy relationship with her. She tells me that if I need anything that I need to make sure to contact her. Whenever I need her, she will be there. She will make sure I accomplish my goals.

Melanie received $15 for having her work published.

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Tiffany, age 14

I need a supportive person at my meetings to help me get though the hurtful things that are said. I want them to help me feel good about myself and help me do the right things in life and not mess up like I have in the past. . . .

I’d like to invite my mom to my meetings. . .. Some may say she would not be a good support person to have, because of what has happened to me in my life, and what people have done to me, plus her not being there for me when I needed her, like when I was getting abused. I would say that my mom is a great support person for me. She is my mom. No matter what has happened, she is there for me now. That is all that I need from her. My mom has changed a lot. She is a great support person for me to have now.

Tiffany received $15 for having her work published.

People I Would Invite to My CFT

The young people below each received $15 for having their work published.

If I could choose one person to be at my meeting, it would be my mom. My mom knows all about me, she loves me, she knows my past like the back of her hand, and I lived with her all my life. . . . My mother is in prison so I have not got to see her yet. . . . If my mom were out of prison, I would be at home.
—Blake, age 13


If I could pick one person to come to my meeting, it would be my brother, Nathan. Nathan is a U.S. Marine and, more importantly, my hero. —Sierra, age 16


I’d invite my real dad. . . .I do not know a whole lot about my real dad. I have been told that I act just like my dad, and if he came to my meeting, he would tell me more about himself. This would help me in the meeting because I need to know about him; I would be happier if I could talk with my dad. —Chris, age 16


I would invite my social worker to the meeting because he has been supportive to me and he has helped me to gain overnight stays with my family, which I have not had (until recently) since I lived with my mom back in 2004. He is also supportive in the reunification of me and my family once all the issues at home are taken care of. —Caleb, age 17


I would invite the family that wanted to adopt me. I think you should know who you are going to be with. . . . My sister should be able to come because she could help me make a decision, and afterward we could go in a different room to see if we really want to be with the family that wants to adopt us. —Leeann, age 11


Meetings bring back a small portion of being able to take charge of at least a few things in my own life. . . . My aunt would be nice to see in the meeting, because she actually has the option and I have yet to see her at any of my meetings. I also think it would be nice to hear her opinion every now and then. . . . My aunt would set things in motion and make sure they happen, all the while promoting my thoughts. —Jessie, age 16


My GAL has been right by my side for almost four years now. Every CFT, court date, even a performance at church. If I could give him a best grandpa award, I totally would! He is like the fantastic grandfather I never had. One of the many things I like most about Jim is he is STRAIGHT UP. He doesn’t hold back and says what he needs to say. He always keeps my best interest in mind and makes CFTs a little bit better for me. —Nikki, age 16


I’d invite my previous resident counselors, Josh and Jamie, because they care about me and my future. I tell them everything. I have a special connection with them. —Dalton, age 11


To my child and family team meeting I would invite Mom, Dad, and Aunt Char. Why? Because they are the only ones who listen carefully. —Noah, age 11


Even though I’m young, people should let me speak for myself. —Christina, age 11


“I Wonder ”

by Jaquaisha, age 14

Sometimes I wonder if we all see the same colors?
Or if someone is color blind and they just don’t?
What’s beyond our universe?
I wonder if there are other worlds?
Is there a Heaven?
I know there is, but is it really?
I wonder if when we are sleeping,
Are our dreams actual places that we are going?
I think we may be living in someone’s dream right now.
I think mirrors lie.
So what are we?

Fostering Perspectives Spring/Summer 2012 Writing Contest

First Prize: $100 • Second Prize: $50 • Third Prize: $25

If you are under 18 and are or have been in foster care, please send us a letter or short essay in response to the following:

What's one thing you would want to say to a judge about you or your family?

Deadline: August 6, 2012

Anyone under 21 who is or has been in foster care or a group home can enter. E-mail your submission to [email protected] or send it via U.S. Mail your entry to:

John McMahon, Editor
Fostering Perspectives
Jordan Institute for Families
1459 Sand Hill Rd., No. 6 (NCDSS)
Candler, NC 28715

Include your name, age, address, social security number (used to process awards only, your confidentiality will be protected) and phone number. In addition to receiving the awards specified above, winners will have their work published in the next issue of Fostering Perspectives. Runners-up may also have their work published, for which they will also receive a cash award.

We’re Also Seeking Artwork and Other Writing from Children and Teens in Foster Care
Submissions can be on any theme. Submission requirements described above apply. If sent via U.S. Mail, artwork should be mailed flat (unfolded) on white, unlined paper.