Vol. 16, No. 2 May 2012
Successful CFTs: What Foster Parents Can Do to Help
As this issue of Fostering Perspectives makes clear, child and family team meetings are important. Here are a few ways you can help ensure their success.
Understand your role. CFTs focus on children in foster care and their families, but as a foster parent you do have an important part to play. Precisely what that part is will depend on the family’s situation and the purpose of the meeting. If you are unsure, ask the person who called the meeting to clarify your role for you.
Support the children. As the next article indicates, CFTs can stir up a lot of anxiety. You are in an excellent position to help young people to prepare emotionally for these meetings. Foster parents can help by asking children how they feel about the upcoming CFT. As you discuss their feelings, make sure they understand the purpose of the meeting, who has been invited, and their own role.
Help children understand that being present at a CFT that concerns them is their right, not a privilege. If they want to be there, they have the right to be heard. If they do not want to participate or there is some reason why full participation is not possible, find out how they want their voice, thoughts, and ideas shared as part of the meeting.
Be prepared to step out of the room. If you are asked to leave the CFT at some point, don’t take it too personally. It is important for children and families to be able to speak freely about their concerns, even those that pertain to your home.
Think shared parenting. Although most foster parents will have already met the birth family as part of shared parenting, CFTs offer another great opportunity to build a relationship with and obtain information from the child’s parents. The box below offers good reminders of what birth families want and need from others when it comes to CFTs. Always ask the family what you can do to support their relationship with their child.
Speak up about scheduling. Those scheduling and planning CFTS should allow foster parents to have some input about when and where CFTs take place. Foster parents should not be shy on this point—ask for what you want; if you don’t get it, be understanding.
Think next steps. Help everyone remember how important it is for children to be involved in what happens AFTER the meeting. With social workers and others, help young people in care understand what part they can play as the plan moves forward.
The Bottom Line
CFTs allow foster parents to be there when important information is discussed and service agreements are made and reviewed. This allows them to be part of the reunification effort, or whatever the child’s permanent plan is. The bottom line? CFTs are a great way for foster parents to stay up-to-date and to be active, contributing members of the team serving the family and child.
~ Family and Children's Resource Program, UNC-CH School of Social Work ~