The Child and Family Team (CFT) Meeting
After a child or youth enters foster care in California and is placed in out-of-home care, the county placing agency is required to assemble a Child and Family Team (CFT) and hold a Child and Family Team meeting within sixty (60 days).
The requirement to provide CFTs builds upon existing family-centered and team-based approaches to care. The use of a strengths-based, family-centered CFT process is key to engaging children, youth, nonminor dependents, and families in the development and implementation of their individual case or treatment plans or other related services designed to meet their needs. By sharing decision-making and working together, it is more likely that positive and lasting outcomes will be achieved.
The Child and Family Team is to be comprised of the foster child or youth (or nonminor dependent) and key individuals in his/her life. The foster child/youth has a right to participate in his/her own case plan. Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16501.1
The child or youth and his/her family may request specific persons to be included on the child and family team. The law requires that the following individuals be included on the Child and Family Team and be invited to the CFT meeting:
- The child or youth,
- The biological parents,
- the caregiver,
- the placing agency caseworker,
- representative from the foster family agency,
- mental health representatives and providers (required to be present at the meeting if placement into a short-term residential therapeutic program or FFA that provides treatment services has occurred or is being considered),
- formal support persons (such as treatment and educational professionals),
- extended family members,
- informal support persons (i.e. friends, coaches, church representatives, tribe members)
The purpose of a CFT meeting is to assemble the people involved in the foster child’s life to determine how best to address the child’s needs and achieve positive outcomes of safety, permanency, and well-being. Gathering people who have unique information about the child and who the child is familiar with enables the county placing agency to identify supports and services needed to achieve permanency, enable a child to live in the least restrictive family setting, and promote normal childhood experiences. The CFT meeting requirement applies to all children and youth residing in a group home with an existing case plan or children and youth who come into the child welfare foster care placement after January 1, 2017, including probation youth in foster care and non-minor dependents.
Welfare and Institutions Code sections 16501 and 16501.1(a)-(c)
CFT meetings may be offered to families as often as necessary to meet their needs:
- If possible, prior to the removal of a child in non-emergency situations
- During the formation of safety plans, crisis stabilization, placement changes, etc.
- During any case planning process, including the initial case plan and a revised case plan. An initial CFT must be held within the first 60 days after the child has been placed in out-of-home care and the agency must consider the recommendations of the CFT in developing the case plan. If there are inconsistencies between the CFT’s recommendations and the case plan, the agency must document why the case plan does not follow the CFT recommendations.
Welfare and Institutions Code section 16501.1(a)(3).
- When there is a change in case status or the family requests assistance in resolving other case issues
The individuals on the CFT provide input into the development of a child and family plan that is strengths-based, needs-driven, and culturally relevant. The CFT recommendations must be considered in any placement decision made by the placing agency and the services to be provided in order to support the child or youth.
Los Angeles County DCFS has published their policy on CFTs that provides helpful information and guidelines on the Child and Family Team and CFT meeting.
The California Department of Social Services has issued the following All County Letters on CFTs: