Vol. 16, No. 2 • May 2012

Child and Family Team Meetings Can Be Golden Opportunities

Child and family team meetings (CFTs) are meetings where DSS brings birth family members and their community supports together to create, implement, and update a plan with the child, youth, and family. CFTs are structured discussions that seek to ensure child safety and build on the strengths of the child, youth, and family and address their needs, desires, and dreams.

In the writing contest in the last issue of Fostering Perspectives we asked children and youth in foster care who they would invite to a child and family team meeting, and why.

In response, they said they’d invite their parents, siblings, aunts, friends, social workers, teachers, resident counselors, GALs, and others.

By itself, this list might seem unremarkable. But the reasons these children and teens want these supporters at their meetings are eye-opening and profound.

For example, one young lady wants her brother present at her CFT because he “is a U.S. Marine and, more importantly, my hero.”

Another wishes her mother could be there because “she knows all about me, she loves me, and she knows me like the back of her hand.” This young woman’s mother can’t attend a CFT because she is in prison.

Another wants his “real dad” there so he can learn more about him.

Hearing these young people speak out reminds me why CFTs are so valuable. These meetings are more than just 1-2 hour, mandatory events to make sure policy is met. They are golden opportunities for children and youth to gain understanding of what is happening in their lives and to share with the people who care for them what they are thinking, feeling, and want to happen.

CFTs are connectors, helping young people bind together their past with their future. They are the link which holds them to the people most important to who they are, and who they want to be.

CFTs are a source of illumination. They reveal ways to provide young people the chance they need to realize their dreams.

Jenny King is a Training Coordinator and Trainer for the Center for Family and Community Engagement at NC State University.

To hear from the young people who contributed to this issue's writing contest, click here.


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