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1120 Guiding Principles of the CPS Program

1121 Family Group Decision-Making (FGDM)

CPS September 2015

Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) is a collaborative approach to service planning and decision making. Using the FGDM approach, CPS invites the child or youth and his or her family to join CPS staff in developing a service plan. DFPS recognizes that the best results are obtained when the child or youth and family is involved in making decisions that affect safety, permanency, and well-being.

The goal for families is to increase family participation in this collaborative approach with CPS in making decisions about their safety and service plans and to engage the extended family members, and other members of the family’s support system, in this process.

Collaboration strengthens the ability of extended family members and other supportive persons to provide safe and permanent living arrangements for the family’s children and youth.

The goal for older youth is to increase their involvement in developing their service plans and developing their transition plans as they age out of care.

Staying involved helps youth reaffirm or identify caring family and adult relationships and support systems.

1121.1 The FGDM Philosophy

CPS September 2015

Family Group Decision Making:

  •  recognizes that families possess the information needed to make well-informed decisions and are responsible for their children’s security and sense of belonging;

  •  emphasizes developing a partnership between families, DFPS, and other departments and agencies that serve them, so that service planning and decision-making become a collaborative process;

  •  respects families, children, and youth and helps them decide what services they need, based on their strengths and resources, to meet the needs of the children or youth and ensure their safety;

  •  emphasizes the family’s responsibility to care for and to provide a sense of identity for their children;

  •  encourages families to connect with the resources available in their communities and provides a means for communities to support families;

  •  encourages families to participate voluntarily in meetings that are family-centered, culturally relevant, community-based, and oriented to the families’ protective capacities; and

  •  provides a supportive environment in which families can discuss their needs and concerns.

1121.2 Using Models of FGDM to Guide Safety and Service Planning

CPS September 2015

CPS uses the following models of FGDM to guide safety and service planning. The FGDM models are used to varying degrees, as appropriate:

1121.21 Family Team Meeting (FTM)

CPS September 2015

Family Team Meetings generally are held before a child is removed from the home, but may also be held during other stages of service, such as when a family receives Family-Based Safety Services or when a child is in DFPS conservatorship.

Family Team Meetings enable DFPS to:

  •  provide a quick, family-involved response to concerns about the child’s safety or placement; and

  •  achieve positive results for the child during the earliest stages of CPS interaction with the family.

See Appendix 1121: Documentation Requirements for Models of Family Group Decision Making Documentation

1121.22 Family Group Conference (FGC)

CPS September 2015

A Family Group Conference involves a higher degree of coordination and long-term service planning than a Family Team Meeting. Family Group Conferences generally are held after a child is removed, but may also be used before removal when the family receives Family-Based Safety Services.

During a FGC, the child’s family joins with relatives, friends, and community members to develop a plan for the child and family. The purpose of the plan is to address specific concerns and ensure that the child is cared for and protected from future harm. The group identifies service providers (such as schools, churches, and counselors) and then works with the providers and CPS staff to help the family meet the goals of the plan, provided that the plan adequately addresses the specified concerns.


6251 Overview of Permanency Planning Meetings

Appendix 1121: Documentation Requirements for Models of Family Group Decision Making

1121.23 Circle of Support (COS)

CPS September 2015

A Circle of Support conference is held soon after a youth who has been removed from the home reaches age 14. The COS is directed by the youth and focuses on the youth.

Although a COS may be used for various purposes, the primary purpose is to:

  •  develop a transition plan for older youth who are moving from foster care to adulthood; and

  •  connect the youth to supportive and caring adults who can help when the youth ages out of care.

A COS includes broad participation by members of the youth’s support network.


6252 Permanency Planning Meetings for Youth 14 and Older

Appendix 1121: Documentation Requirements for Models of Family Group Decision Making

1121.24 Transition Plan Meeting (TPM)

CPS September 2015

A Transition Plan Meeting is held soon after a youth who has been removed from the home reaches age 14. A TPM tends to be a shorter and more DFPS-driven conference with fewer participants than a Circle of Support. A TPM is used as an alternative to the COS when youth do not desire a COS, or a COS cannot be convened.


6252 Permanency Planning Meetings for Youth 14 and Older

Appendix 1121: Documentation Requirements for Models of Family Group Decision Making

1121.25 Permanency Conference (PC)

CPS September 2015

A permanency conference is held when it is not possible or appropriate to hold a Family Group Conference.

A PC is held for a child or youth in DFPS conservatorship for the purposes of:

  •  developing or reviewing the child’s or youth’s permanency plan;

  •  developing or reviewing the family service plan;

  •  resolving barriers to achieving a permanent living arrangement, as appropriate; and

  •  developing and reviewing the transition plan for youth age 14 and 15.

Family Group Decision Making strategies are used, to the extent possible and appropriate to the situation.


6251 Overview of Permanency Planning Meetings

Appendix 1121: Documentation Requirements for Models of Family Group Decision Making

1121.3 Family Group Decision-Making Strategies

CPS September 2015

The safety and service planning models include the use of some or all of the following FGDM strategies:

  •  Meetings are attended by children, their families, other persons in their support system, and relevant community members.

  •  Trained facilitators skilled in FGDM philosophy and strategies conduct meetings in all of the models of safety and service planning. Some models use co-facilitators.

  •  Independent facilitators coordinate and facilitate FGDM meetings. Their objectivity helps to ensure a fair process, gain a family’s willingness to participate in the process, and enhance the family’s ability to trust a system that they may view with suspicion.

  •  Meetings for older youth are attended by the youth, adults and other persons that youth identify as their family or supportive persons. The meetings are also an opportunity to introduce or reconnect the youth to people who may provide support in the future.

  •  The timing and location of the meetings suit the needs of the family and older youth, when possible.

  •  Cultural uniqueness is acknowledged.

  •  Safety and service planning models and FGDM strategies are selected based on what is appropriate to the situation.

For additional information on the CPS safety and service planning models that incorporate FGDM strategies, see:

6251 Overview of Permanency Planning Meetings

1121.4 The Attendance and Participation of Children and Families in FGDM Conferences

CPS March 2023

Including the child in decision making and planning about their own safety, well-being, and permanency is critical to achieving positive results for the child and family. The child must have an opportunity to attend and participate in Family Group Decision Making conferences (Family Team Meetings, Family Group Conferences, Circles of Support, and Permanency Conferences).

Although a child’s attendance at a meeting or conference is never forced, the child’s caseworker must make every effort to include the child in the meeting or conference. If a child cannot or chooses not to attend, the caseworker provides the child with alternate methods of participation and inclusion.

DFPS must give the family preference in how the meeting or conference will be held (in person, virtual, conference call, or a combination of these).

1121.41 Alternate Methods of Participation for Children

CPS September 2015

If a child or youth is unable to attend a conference in person, the worker may ask the child or youth to express his or her thoughts about safety, the current placement, the CPS services received, and the goal for permanency by either:

  •  writing them down in a letter to be read at the conference;

  •  drawing them in a picture to be shown at the conference;

  •  verbalizing them in a video or audiotape to be played at the conference; or

  •  verbalizing them to a designated supportive adult, such as a family member or friend, to be addressed at the conference.

The worker may also allow the child to:

  •  attend only part of the conference;

  •  attend by conference call or SCAN call; or

  •  attend by video conference, if available.

1121.42 Alternate Methods of Participation for Older Youth

CPS September 2015

Older youth are strongly encouraged to attend their Family Group Decision Making Conference, unless they decline.

If the youth declines to attend, the worker:

  •  ascertains the reason for the decline;

  •  ensures that the youth fully understands the purpose of the conference; and

  •  ensures that the youth understands the importance of having a voice in planning for their future.

The worker must try to accommodate the schedule of the youth, whenever possible. If the youth cannot attend, the youth may represent himself or herself at the meeting by conference call, SCAN call, videotape, audiotape, or letter.

The worker must hold a follow-up discussion with the youth, regardless of how the youth plans to participate in the conference, to ensure that the youth is aware of and understands the planning and decision-making that will be made on his or her behalf.

1122 Focus on Resources and Outcomes

CPS October 2020

CPI and CPS seek to ensure the safety of children and to promote the integrity and stability of families. To maintain this focus, CPI and CPS identify and match three key elements:

  • Desired Outcomes: The specific changes in client circumstances and behaviors that will best protect the child and strengthen the family.
  • Critical Success Factors: The CPI and CPS activities that, if done well, are most likely to achieve these changes.
  • Resources: The staff and material needed to carry out these activities.

Desired outcomes, critical success factors, and necessary resources vary according to the needs of clients, and the needs of clients change over the course of receiving services. To address the changing needs of different clients, CPI and CPS correlate resources, activities, and outcomes by stages of service.

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