Reunification goals state what the Team intends to accomplish during the treatment process.
Establishing sound treatment goals requires the Team to have a common understanding of what needs to be accomplished to facilitate reunification. These goals must be relevant to the issues which resulted in the child being placed in out-of-home care, as identified in the family assessment.
The NCFAS G+R and attachments will identify several critical areas, or underlying problems, for casework intervention. Focusing upon the underlying problems requires the Team to establish desired outcomes, which will improve family functioning allowing the child to return home. The desired outcome(s) for the casework intervention is the reunification goal. The treatment goals are written on the family treatment plan and serve as a “road map” for the Division’s intervention into the family.
Achievement of the goals should resolve or decrease family problems, which resulted in out-of-home placement and should reduce risk to the children. When risk is reduced and/or eliminated, families should be reunited.
The Team should limit the number of goals on the treatment plan so that the family will not be overwhelmed. Generally, two (2) goals written on the treatment plan are sufficient at any one time. This allows the family to focus upon one or two critical issues, build upon success and move on. It is important for the family to fully understand the rationale for limiting the number of goals on the treatment plan.
It is important the Team clearly identify goals and tasks that cannot, or should not, be pursued at this time. The Team should explain that there may be other identified goals if it appears that more than one treatment period will be necessary. This should help prevent the family from thinking they have accomplished all their goals, only to find they have more goals and tasks added on at a later time.
By establishing goals directly related to an underlying problem and selecting the easiest goals first, the Team can facilitate successful planning.
Goal Setting is a continuation of the assessment process. Goals tell the FST where to focus, help assess, track, and evaluate where families are in their plan. Goals should be:
- Behaviorally stated so the Team knows when change has occurred. For instance, rather than having a goal identified as “Mrs. Jones will attend parenting classes,” the goal should focus on what needs to be achieved by her attendance at parenting classes.
- Phrased in a positive manner. Goals and tasks should specify what change needs to take place, not what should be stopped.
- Phrased in a clear and understandable language
- Very specific and time limited. All Team members should know exactly what has to be done within the specified time frame. Tasks should be time limited, achievable in a two (2) to four (4) week period and measurable.
- Meaningful to the person or family. Goals and tasks should be viewed as a need and priority by the family member(s).
- Relevant to the reducing or eliminating the risk of the children
- Realistic and attainable
- Agreed upon, and
- Consistent with the family’s values
For families reaching their sixty (60) month lifetime limit for Temporary Assistance, the format of the plan should include the goal of achieving self-sufficiency. A self-sufficiency component should be addressed in a FST at least six months prior to a family reaching their lifetime limit and in every subsequent FST, until the issue is resolved. The Children’s Service Worker will be responsible for contacting the IM worker to begin the planning process for the FST. After sharing pertinent assessment information, the Children’s Service Worker and IM worker will jointly determine how to prepare the family for the team meeting, work with the family to set up the meeting, and provide the necessary support and follow up.