Series: Bulletins for Professionals|
Child Welfare Information Gateway. |
|Year Published: 2010|
The Benefits of Family Engagement
More and more evidence suggests that family engagement has many benefits, including:
- Enhancing the helping relationship. A family's belief that all its members are respected and that their feelings and concerns are heard strengthens their relationship with their caseworker. This positive relationship, in turn, can increase the chances for successful intervention.
- Promoting family "buy-in." When families are part of the decision-making process and have a say in developing plans that affect them and their children, they are more likely to be invested in the plans and more likely to commit to achieving objectives and complying with treatment that meets their individual needs. A qualitative analysis of findings from the three top-performing metro sites in the 2007-2008 Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) found that child and family involvement in case planning was correlated with (1) active engagement of noncustodial and incarcerated parents, (2) family-centered and strength-based approaches (e.g., team meetings, mediation) effective in building working relationships, and (3) strong rapport developed between workers and parents (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS], 2009).
- Expanding options. Inclusion of family members—including fathers and extended family—early in a case provides a greater opportunity to explore the use of relatives as a placement/permanency option for children.
- Improving the quality and focus of visits. The partnership developed between the family and social worker through family engagement strategies strengthens the assessment process and leads to more appropriate service provision.
- Increasing placement stability. The CFSRs found that States with high ratings for developing case plans jointly with parents and youth also had high percentages of children with permanency and stability in their living situations (HHS, 2004). Research on family group decision-making (FGDM) also points to improvements in creating stability and maintaining family continuity (Merkel-Holguin, Nixon, & Burford, 2003).
- Improving timeliness of permanency decisions. Research also suggests that parental involvement is linked to quicker reunification and other forms of permanency (Tam & Ho, 1996; Merkel-Holguin, et al., 2003).
- Building family decision-making skills. By being involved in strength-based decision-making processes and having appropriate problem-solving approaches modeled, families are more comfortable communicating their own problem-solving strategies and exploring new strategies that may benefit themselves and their children.
- Enhancing the fit between family needs and services. Working collaboratively, caseworkers and families are better able to identify a family's unique needs and develop relevant and culturally appropriate service plans that address underlying needs, build on family strengths, and draw from community supports. A better fit in services often leads to a more effective use of limited resources (Doolan, 2005).
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