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Definitional Tools

OVERVIEW

Child welfare staff, family members, service providers, and community representatives make critical decisions together regarding removal, change of placement, and reunification/permanency. Assessment of family strengths and needs is made during Team Decision Making (TDM) meetings, and safety plans are constructed for children through engagement and input from all stakeholders. Making decisions about where and how children should be placed is vitally important for the overall well-being of children and their families.

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STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

There is no perfect situation when a child has to be removed from his/her home; it is difficult for everyone involved. Change of placements can be traumatic for children as they experience the loss of their family, friends, community, and neighborhood. The child welfare system is focused on reunification and permanency of  placements for children. Team Decision Making (TDM) is one practice that attempts to improve the placement process by bringing interested parties together to make the best decisions for children.

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WHAT IS TDM?

Team Decision Making (TDM) is a "placement" decision making process that involves a collaborative and shared method for deciding the best placement options for children. Typically, child welfare worker(s), family members, service providers, and community representatives participate to discuss and finalize placements and permanency opportunities for children.

The Team Decision Making (TDM) Model:
These documents outline the process for TDM and make recommendations about who should make placement decisions:

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GOALS OF TDM

  1. To improve the agency's decision-making process in order to ensure that children are only moved when they truly need to be moved.
  2. To engage and encourage the support of the family, extended family, and the community.
  3. To develop specific, individualized, and appropriate interventions for children and families.

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WHEN SHOULD TDM BE IMPLEMENTED?

TDM should be implemented for all families whose children face:

  1. An initial removal
  2. A change of placement
  3. A decision regarding reunification or
  4. An alternative permanency plan

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ADVANTAGES OF TDM:

  • It improves the decision-making process by including a variety of child welfare staff, family, extended family, and community members in the process, and it gives added support to individual social workers and supervisors.
  • It helps the agency develop and sustain more consistent and accountable practices when placement is being considered, helping to ensure that only those children who need to be placed are placed, and ensuring that reasonable efforts to prevent placement are made in every case. <more>

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DOCUMENTS THAT ARE HELPFUL WHEN IMPLEMENTING TDM:

These documents clarify the goals, values, and assumptions of Team Decision Making meetings, expound upon permanency TDMs, and give examples of outcomes for children and families.