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The Family Unit Is the focus of our attention work with the family as a collective unit. Partner with families to resolve concerns and safeguard children, young persons, and other family members.

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The Family Unit

Is the focus of our attention


Partner with families to resolve concerns and safeguard children, young persons, and other family members.


workers work with families during the investigation and service provision in a manner that respects families.


Prepare families to take part, safely and effectively, in service planning and family decision making.


It is better to ask questions

than issue commands and



Families and community members should be partners in determining solutions and making decisions.


The social worker and the family work hard to widen the circle of support for the children.


Children are the focus of the family-centered meeting and should be closely involved in the process.

reducing disparities a practice perspective

Sixth Annual

DMC Resource Center & Minority Youth & Families Initiative

November 29-30, 2007

Downtown Holiday Inn, Des Moines, Iowa

“Reducing Disparities: A Practice Perspective

Looking At Effective Cultural Approaches To Family Engagement

Presented by Constance Burgess–Moffett Family Partner, Trainer, Consultant

cultural identity
“Cultural Identity”
  • A term for how an individual sees his/her selfhood as determined by belonging to a particular cultural group.
  • Cultural identity is sometimes seen in terms of belonging through:
    • fixed characteristics (skin color, ancestry)
    • sometimes through voluntary participation in cultural practices (religion, music).
organization values
Organization Values

An organization’s Values affect:

  • The way it approaches its mission
  • The way it interacts with the public
  • The way it interacts internally
we must permit the family s culture to effect service delivery
We Must Permit the Family’s Culture To Effect Service Delivery
  • The family guides and develops goals and services with the assistance and support of the professional.
our rich cultural fabric
Our Rich Cultural Fabric
  • Within a nation such as the United States—a nation whose cultural heritage includes elements from every corner of the world—there is a great many perspectives coexisting and intertwining in the cultural fabric.
a culture change shifting service characteristics
From Existing

State administered

Categorically defined


Deficit oriented

Individual as client

Clients as recipients

Emphasis on professional services

To Learning

Community developed


Flexible, individually tailored


Family as client

Families as participants

Emphasis on community support

A Culture ChangeShifting Service Characteristics
decisions decisions
Decisions Decisions

You are living in a future age when all films are made with genetic actors. These individuals are born and grown in order to act in one specific film. Your group is filming the last film in a horror series. You are going to create genetic freaks who will be monsters in this film.

Your Decision:

When filming is completed, what will you do with these actors?

1. Euthanize them (cost $3,000).

2. Cast them into the streets (cost $0).

3. Ship them to an uninhabited island ($60,000).

4. Give them the means to live out their lives in peace ($40 million).

5. Train them in useful employment ($5 million).

You have 10 minutes to reach consensus.

strengths approach
Strengths Approach
  • Integrate & blend perspectives
  • Practical & Action Oriented
  • Binding in terms of follow through
  • Build on Strengths
  • Outline hopes & dreams by developing a goal statement
  • Address needs identified in the meeting & by the family
functional strengths
Functional Strengths
  • What has the child and family done?
    • How have they dealt with challenges in the past?
    • What are their survival skills?
    • Who have they turned to?
    • What was happening in the environment?
  • What is the hidden potential for the future?
    • Interests, motivation, preferences, natural talents
    • Hidden strengths discovered through reframing
key aspects of goal setting
Key Aspects of Goal Setting
  • Focuses on proactive accomplishment, rather than reactive repair
  • Sets stage for the child and family to define their own needs
  • Builds commitment to explore creative and unexpected opportunities
  • Allows child and family to set collective goals
  • Encourages needs identification to occur in the context of each individual’s age, gender, culture and neighborhood
  • Supports action planning across domains
what we should be considering
What We Should Be Considering…
  • Home is safe and familiar.
    • It is one place in the world where we can be comfortable and be ourselves.
    • We all expect love, support, tolerance and caring from our Family members to help us grow to our full potential.
    • Children may turn from their families during adolescence, most return as adults with the principles and values they learned from their family experience.
  • Failure to take the time to develop our sons and daughters will at some point become a lifetime regret.
a quick test
A Quick Test

Pull a file:

1. Are the specific strengths of the child and family and those who support them clearly identified?

2. Is there an action plan that aligns all of the assistance the child and family is receiving and combines formal, informal and natural sources of support?

3. Does each aspect of the action plan build on strengths of the child, family or their circle of support and address a critical need that they have chosen?

4. Are there goal and outcome statements to measure the effectiveness of each aspect of the action plan?

5. Have potential risks been identified and is there a safety plan that addresses them?

  • If prior efforts have not proven effective, has the primary circle of support for the child and family remained intact?

Adapted from Pat Miles and John Franz

benefits of family centered practice
Benefits Of Family Centered Practice
  • Relationships
    • Promote collaboration
    • Child gains important support
    • Power to generate influence
    • Transcend barriers
    • Culture change
    • Different perspective
  • Positive reinforcement
    • Learn new skills that work
    • Negotiation skills develop
    • Feel positive
    • Source of feedback and acknowledgement
    • Families become essential partners in the delivery of mental health services for children and adolescents
challenges we still face
Challenges we still face
  • Funding disparities
  • Differences in language
  • Attitudes towards special needs
  • Lack of service parity
  • Family involvement fluctuations
  • Support needs of families
  • Public/policymaker acceptance of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders as disabilities