What does family and youth involvement mean?
Family and youth involvement within a system of care requires mutual respect and meaningful partnerships between families and professionals. Families are involved as key stakeholders, whether they are helping tailor their child's individualized plan of care or helping design, build, or maintain the system of care. Families are involved in policy development, care coordination, evaluation, strategic planning, service provision, social marketing, and individual and system advocacy. Families include caretakers, kin, and extended family members.
Why is family and youth involvement important?
- The goal of permanency for children–either by reunification with their biological parents or other permanency options–is best facilitated when the family is involved in planning services and participates in them.
- Engaging family members in the planning and provision of services emphasizes a respect for their capabilities and their role as part of the solution to their problems.
- Involving families helps ensure sensitivity to cultural, service, and support needs.
- Child and Family Services Reviews have found that a significantly higher percentage of children have permanency and stability in their living situations in States that rated strongly in developing case plans jointly with parents.
Questions to ask about systems of care and family and youth involvement:
- Are families invited to all meetings that address systems of care issues?
- Are families adequately represented on all systems of care committees?
- Do the families involved in designing and building systems of care reflect the community's cultural makeup?
- Are staff trained in how to engage and involve families?
- Are family members employed in the system of care?
- Are families reimbursed for time spent supporting systems of care (e.g., wages, transportation, childcare expenses)?