Vol. 16, No. 2 • May 2012

What Birth Families Want from CFTs

In focus groups North Carolina birth family members have said they want the following in connection with CFTs.

Before the Meeting

  • Give me a chance to share my story
  • Help me find my informal supports so they can come to the meeting
  • Educate yourself about my child’s illnesses or my situation, don’t just say you don’t know
  • No surprises—make sure I know beforehand what we will be talking about at my meeting
  • Don’t have the meeting unless I can come
  • Work with me to set up a time that I can be present at the meeting; be sensitive to my needs
  • Recognize my feelings (e.g., angry, scared, tired of the mess)
  • Help me understand my options and how the meeting works
  • Listen to what I’m saying and explore why I am saying it

At the Meeting

  • Allow me to introduce myself to the team
  • Talk to me, not about me
  • Monitor your tone of voice
  • Call me by my name, not “mom,” “dad,” or “the youth”
  • Make sure I have someone there I feel will support me
  • Use words I can understand
  • Use humor to make me feel safe
  • Speak to me and my child as if we’re part of the solution, not like we are the problem
  • Help me to meet my immediate needs first (e.g., housing, transportation, child care, food, lights)
  • Remind me of my family’s strengths and build on them
  • Provide needed services, not just mandated services—don’t waste time on services that won’t help my family
  • Know what the family has to do in all of the agency plans so we can come up with one plan
  • Listen to my needs and my family’s needs
  • Use visual prompts so I can follow better
  • Tell the truth
  • Let me explain why I behave the way I do
  • Let us speak more
  • Be open to our questions and opinions
  • Make the meeting more active and fun
  • Everyone who says they’ll attend must be there
  • Ask for information—don’t assume you know the answers
  • Know that I’m doing what I know to do

After the Meeting

  • Respect my confidentiality—don’t talk about me to others
  • Allow me the opportunity to call meetings when I feel I need to
  • All team members need to be held accountable, not just the parents

Source: NCSOC, 2007

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