The goal of Team Decision Making meetings is to involve birth families and community members, along with resource families, service providers and agency staff, in all placement decisions, to ensure a network of support for the child and the adults who care for them.
Values which we strive to uphold are:
- Every child deserves a family
- Every family needs the support of the community
- Public child welfare agencies need community partners
We believe a group can be more effective in decision-making than an individual and that families are the experts on themselves. When families are respectfully included in the decision-making process, they are capable of identifying and participating in addressing their needs. Members of the family’s own community add value to the process by serving as natural allies to the family and experts on the community’s resources.
Key elements of the TDM process:
- A TDM meeting, including birth parents and youth, is held for all decisions involving child removal, change of placement, and reunification/other permanency plan;
- The TDM meeting is held before a child is moved, or in cases of imminent risk, by the next working day, and always before the initial court hearing in cases of removal;
- Neighborhood-based community representatives are invited to participate in all TDM meetings, especially those regarding possibly moving the child;
- The meeting is led by a skilled, immediately accessible internal facilitator, who is not a case-carrying social worker or supervisor;
- Information about each meeting, including participants, location, and recommendations, is collected and ultimately linked to data on child and family outcomes, in order to ensure continuing self-evaluation of the TDM process and its effectiveness;
- Each TDM meeting that results in moving a child serves as a springboard for the planning of a “First Meeting” family team meeting, ideally to be held in conjunction with the first family visit, so that the birth-foster parent relationship can be initiated.