Team Decision-making Service Planning for Children and Adolescents at Risk for Placement Instability: Fidelity and Initial Outcomes

Sonya J. Leathers, Roni Diamant-Wilson, Jill E. Spielfogel, Lee Annes, Amy Thomas, Shirlyn Garrett-Wilson - Children and Youth Services Review


Child welfare standards of care emphasize service planning that provides an opportunity for meaningful participation of youth, caregivers, and family members. For youth who are at high risk for multiple moves while in foster care, participatory service planning can be difficult to achieve. This research focused on a statewide program that uses team decision-making meetings to identify needs and plan services for youth who are at risk for instability while in foster care. Results from meetings held for 364 children and adolescents over a six-week period affirm that use of team decision-making for youth experiencing placement stability can result in a collaborative planning process. Immediately after the meeting, most participants endorsed meeting qualities such as believing that their participation was valued and that the entire team would support the plan. At follow up four months after the meeting, significant improvements had occurred in emotional and behavioral symptoms, caregivers’ need for child care support, and satisfaction with mental health services, suggesting that the meeting process, subsequent services, and placement decisions supported changes in some key areas of concern. Additional research is needed using controlled research designs to identify the unique effects of team decision-making processes and subsequent services on short- and long-term outcomes.