In family-centered practice, families are recognized as experts in determining what is best for themselves and their children. Agencies and professionals enter into partnerships with families and youth, who are given equal voice in all aspects of policy, program, and service design; decision-making; implementation; and evaluation. Effective family engagement occurs when child welfare practitioners actively collaborate and partner with family members throughout their involvement with the child welfare system, recognizing them as the experts on their respective situations and empowering them in the process. Family engagement is a prerequisite for helping the family achieve its goals.
The following resources address how to understand and fully engage families in child welfare services and include State and local examples.
The Child and Family Practice Model Program Manual
California Partners for Permanency (2016)
Includes three manuals detailing the implementation of the Child and Family Practice Model (CFPM), created by the California Partners for Permanency through a Permanency Innovations Initiative (PII) grant. Together, the three PII program manuals help to build a base of replicable interventions that can serve the complex needs of diverse communities of children and families.
Family and Community Engagement
Discusses family and community engagement as an essential part of any collective impact strategy that requires a shared effort among youth-service providers, schools, and community members to continue to reach out to parents in purposeful ways to help them support their children. The site provides information on determining factors for the success of these strategies as well as statistics and a list of additional resources.
Family Empowerment Leadership Academy Training of Trainers [Webinar]
Capacity Building Center for States (2016)
Provides an overview of the Family Empowerment Leadership Academy (FELA), which is a learning experience designed to assist States in building their system capacity to involve family leaders at all levels of agency child welfare administration and practice. This webinar, which requires the user to create a free login, provides child welfare professionals with an overview of the FELA curriculum and discuss key learning points in each of the curriculum’s units.
Parent Partner Programs for Families Involved in the Child Welfare System
California Evidence-Based Practice Clearinghouse for Child Welfare
Describes parent partner programs reviewed and rated by the clearinghouse for their effectiveness in engaging parents to meeting their goals in safety, permanency, and well-being. Also see Motivation and Engagement Programs.
Parent Partner Program Manual: Sample Policies and Procedures (PDF - 534 KB)
Capacity Building Center for States (2016)
Provides a template and guidance for program administrators, parent partner coordinators, family leaders, and other key stakeholders to develop their own parent partner program manuals. This document offers recommendations on key parent partner program manual components; guiding principles; and sample statements, policies, and procedures.
Speak Up Be Safe: Prevention Education Curriculum
Provides recommendations for strategies that can be used by community-based organizations to support the child abuse prevention efforts of schools and to reinforce the messages of the Speak Up Be Safe program in the community.
Strange Bedfellows: How Child Welfare Agencies Can Benefit From Investing in Multidisciplinary Parent Representation (PDF - 945 KB)
Center for the Study of Social Policy (2015)
Explores how child welfare agencies can benefit from effectively engaging parents in all aspects of case planning. If parents are not effectively engaged, agencies will too often fail in their efforts to either reunify a family or achieve another permanency goal for the children.
What Is Family Group Decision Making?
University of Colorado Kempe Center
Provides guidelines, instructions, and references explaining family group decision making in child welfare.
Collaborative Family Engagement: A Promising Approach to Supporting Children in State Care (PDF - 286 KB)
Child & Family Research Partnership (2017)
Describes a project in Texas in which court-appointed special advocates and child protective services are collaborating to implement an adaptation of the Family Finding Model, a structured approach to extensively searching for and engaging adult relatives and family friends to provide additional support to children in out-of-home care.
Engaging 101: Engaging With Children & Their Families (PDF - 665 KB)
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (2015)
Presents a guide for caseworkers to help them develop every day strategies for engaging children and their families through the life of a case. This allows caseworkers to monitor and, if needed, improve their interactions with family members and their networks while also paying special attention to the skills needed to engage children and youth.
Engaging Families in Child Welfare [Video]
The Annie E. Casey Foundation (2016)
Presents a video interview with Shirley Roberts, director of the Delaware Division of Family Services. The discussion covers the power of family and family engagement as well as the State's proactive approach in aiding at-risk teens as well as how anyone can help support a child in foster care. The discussion on family engagement begins around the 12:50 mark in the video.
Engaging the Child, Family, and Significant Adults (PDF - 587 KB)
Virginia Department of Social Services (2017)
Child and Family Services Manual
Reviews the importance of family engagement that involves all aspects of parenting with youth and families in a deliberate manner to make well-informed decisions about safety, permanency, lifelong connections, and well-being. Family engagement is important to ensure the child's safety, stabilize the child's family when in crisis, prevent placement in foster care, and provide support for the child when foster care placement is necessary.
Family Engagement and Family Centered Practice
Florida's Center for Child Welfare (2017)
Provides information and resources for Florida child welfare professionals on how to best engage with families. The website includes materials on topics such as child and family team meetings; engaging children, youth, and families; family group decision-making; and strategies to increase parent involvement.
Regional Parent Engagement Advisory Groups
Be Strong Families (2018)
Describes Regional Parent Engagement Advisory Groups (RPEAs), which are made up of parents who want to make changes in the lives of children and families in their communities. These parents share their stories and the power of meaningful parent engagement, and they can weigh in on local and national agendas and bring parental issues and concerns to the table. RPEAs are currently in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles, with groups coming to Oakland, Washington, D.C., and New York City.
Team Decision Making: Engaging Families in Placement Decisions (PDF - 2,744 KB)
The Annie E. Casey Foundation (2014)
Examines how three jurisdictions—Cuyahoga County, Ohio; Denver County, Colorado; and New York City—have woven team decision-making into standard child welfare procedures to create better, safer outcomes for children. Team decision-making is a collaborative practice used by child welfare agencies that includes family members in all decisions involving child removal, change of placement, reunification, and other permanency plans.