- What is the role of the facilitator?
The facilitator’s role is to call and prepare all participants for the FTDM meeting, including the extended family members, community support people, and professionals/service providers. The facilitator is also responsible for addressing any safety issues that may impact the FTDM process and helping the team reach a consensus during the meeting regarding the placement/safety for children. The facilitator, who has had no prior involvement with the family, also facilitates the FTDM meeting. Since they are considered a neutral party, the facilitator has no vote or say in the final placement decision.
- What is the role of the service providers at the FTDM meeting?
The service providers are responsible for providing key information to the team. After the parents are given the opportunity to share with the team the critical incident or safety concerns that led up to the request for a FTDM meeting, the referring service provider may help clarify the circumstances. Service providers also contribute information to the team’s discussion about child/family strengths and potential placement options for the children. Family members have the opportunity to ask questions and get clarification from the service providers on their roles and processes within the child welfare system. If the children are in state or county custody, the county social service staff will help the family determine which immediate placement options would be acceptable for the children based on child welfare policy (i.e., state the placement option is located in, requirements to become a foster or kinship home, etc.).
- What is the role of family at the FTDM meeting?
Family members and other support people are critically important to the FTDM process. With abundant knowledge of the family and children for whom the meeting is about, family members play the role of information providers. They are invited to identify the strengths of the family, share their concerns about the children and their needs, and suggest ideas for potential placement options for the children. Family members, along with service providers, also contribute to the discussion to determine the most acceptable and least restrictive placement option for the children.
- Who does the facilitator contact and what information is shared before the FTDM meeting?
The facilitator first talks with the parents to seek their agreement to contact individuals within their extended family/community about participating in the FTDM meeting and to confirm the day, time, location, and purpose of the meeting. When calling other participants, the facilitator shares only information that is relevant to provide participants with a reasonable understanding of why a FTDM meeting is being held and to confirm their willingness to participate. Specific information sharing about the case is left to the service providers and family members at the meeting.
The people typically considered to attend the FTDM meeting include:
- Children or young person whose safety and well-being is at stake (if age appropriate)
- Parents, guardians, and/or caregivers of the children/young people
- Members of the children/young person’s extended family
- Service provider who referred the family (and possibly their supervisor)
- Guardian ad Litem (if applicable)
- Foster parents (if applicable)
- Other service providers that the children/young people or parents have been involved with that could provide information and support
- Any other person identified by the family as a support person for the children/young people (e.g., family friend, support person, neighbor, minister, etc.)
- Any person who has supplemental information that meeting participants need to make decisions (e.g., substance abuse counselor, mental health professional, domestic violence counselor, etc.).
- What information is shared at the FTDM meeting?
After introductions are made and the purpose of the FTDM meeting is clarified, the facilitator invites the parents to identify the situation/concerns that prompted the meeting. Other participants are invited to contribute to this discussion, and other safety concerns and needs of the children are also discussed. The team also discusses the strengths of the children and family, such as things that are going well within the family, positive supports that the family has, and other factors that reveal the family’s ability to provide safety, care, and protection for the children. The last discussion topic focuses on ideas and suggestions for immediate placement options, and a decision is made as a team regarding the best immediate placement option for the children.
- What do you mean by “immediate placement decision”?
When children are removed from a home, county social services may need to place them in an emergency foster home or related setting on a temporary basis to ensure their safety until an alternative temporary placement can be identified. At the FTDM meeting, a decision will be made as to where the children can be placed that is least restrictive to their well-being (for example, with family members or friends in their community). Calling the placement decision “immediate” indicates that the placement can happen in the very near future (e.g., within a week) and the children may remain there on a short-term basis until county social services can finish the case assessment and develop a safety plan for the parents to complete in order for the children to return home.
- Do children and young people participate in the FTDM meeting?
Typically, children under the age of 12 do not attend the FTDM meeting. The facilitator may ask the children and parents if the children would like to share information through a written statement or other form of communication, but ultimately this is up to the parents and the children. Children who are 12 years of age and older may choose to attend the FTDM meeting. It is the role of the facilitator to make sure the children/young people understand the purpose of the meeting and the roles of those invited to participate in the meeting. Special attention is taken to protect the children’s safety, emotional and physical health, and comfort during the meeting.
- Are individuals sometimes excluded from the FTDM meeting?
It is the role of the facilitator to ask information about whose participation in the FTDM meeting might compromise the emotional and physical safety of other meeting participants or could be detrimental to the decision making process. While the facilitator rarely excludes individuals from meetings, it is his/her responsibility, along with feedback from the family group, to finalize these difficult decisions. Excluding someone from being physically present at the FTDM meeting does not mean the person’s voice is not heard. The facilitator will make every effort to gather the person’s perspective (e.g., via verbal comments) and share it with the FTDM participants. With permission from the team, the facilitator may also advise the absent person of the meeting outcome.
- What happens if the team can’t agree on a placement/safety decision?
There are instances when family members and service providers do not agree on the best placement option for the children. The final decision for placement will depend on the identified custodian of the children. If the county or state has custody of the children, they make the final decision regarding immediate placement (taking into account all the information and ideas shared by the family). If the parents or legal guardians have custody, they will make the final decision regarding immediate placement. Oftentimes, families prefer playing a significant role in the decision and eventually come to a placement decision along with the service providers.
- Is a FTDM meeting a one-time process?
Yes. Follow-up FTDM meetings are not usually held, and the referring service provider/agency is responsible for carrying out and monitoring the placement/safety decision along with the family.
- How long are FTDM meetings?
FTDM meetings are 1 ½ - 2 hours in length.
- Where are FTDM meetings typically held?
FTDM meetings are typically held at The Village Family Service Center, county social service office, or another agency office. Since the meetings are scheduled within 24-72 hours of the referral, there are usually pre-designated sites, days, and times established by The Village Family Service Center to hold FTDM meetings.
- Is there help with childcare and/or transportation?
If you have any barriers to getting your family together for the FGDM meeting, the facilitator and/or referring service provider may help find alternative ways to allow you to participate.
- What is the difference between FGDM and FTDM?
The main difference between FGDM and FTDM involves the purposes of the meetings. In FGDM, there can be many different purposes for holding a meeting, as long as the goal of the meeting is to develop a plan to support the long-term safety, permanency, and well-being of children. In FTDM, the goal is to plan for the immediate placement or safety of children following an emergency removal from the home. For more information on the differences between the two types of Family Engagement meetings, see FGDM vs. FTDM
FGDM and FTDM are based on the beliefs that:
- A team can be more effective in making good decisions than an individual.
- Families are the experts on themselves.
- When families are included in decision-making, they are capable of identifying their own needs and strengths.
- Members of the family’s own community add value to the process by serving as natural allies to the family and as experts on the community’s resources.