Table of Contents
Team Decision Making
Team Decision Making (TDM) is a core element of Children’s Division’s practice model. This evidence-informed process is supported by the Annie E Casey Foundation. At the core of the model is a belief that placement-related decisions (whether initial removals or moves with the foster care system) should be made by a team of people who are closest to the child. This includes relatives, neighbors, the child welfare agency and community partners.
The following are the key elements regarding TDM practice:
- A TDM meeting, including birth parents and youth, is held for ALL decisions involving a child leaving home, as well as those involving all changes of placement;
- The TDM meeting is held BEFORE the child’s move occurs, or in cases of imminent risk/emergency moves, by the next working day, and always before the initial court hearing in court-involved cases;
- Families are encouraged to invite anyone in their informal support system, and public agencies strive to include community members who may have valuable contributions to the discussion;
- The meeting is led by a skilled, immediately accessible, internal facilitator, using a specific, 6-stage model. The facilitator is not a case-carrying social worker or line supervisor, and is experienced in child welfare practice;
- Information about each meeting, including participants, location, and recommendations, is collected in a timely way and ultimately linked to data on child & family outcomes, in order to ensure continuing evaluation of the TDM process and its effectiveness.
Each TDM meeting follows a specific 6 stage model, facilitated by staff trained by the Annie E Casey Foundation. The six stages, in order, are:
- Identifying the Situation
- Assessing the Situation
- Developing Ideas
- Reaching Consensus/Decision
In general, two types of meetings occur in Missouri’s usage of the TDM model, initial meetings and placement stability meetings.
Initial TDM meetings are regarding situations where a child may need to leave his or her home. This is most often encountered during responses to hotline reports, but also could occur during work with intact families. It should be stressed that these meetings are held if the Division believes that a child needs to leave his or her own home, regardless of the decision to pursue custody or not. These meetings should occur before the child leaves the home or as soon as possible thereafter (at least prior to the protective custody hearing if the child was removed on an emergency basis)
Placement Stability meetings are meetings held while a child is in foster care and needs to move from one placement to another. These meetings should be held prior to the move or within 72 hours of an emergency move.
Missouri has implemented these meetings in certain portions of the state. The practice is currently being expanded statewide. Each area has developed a local written protocol that details how the meetings are implemented in each circuit.