Advancing the Innovation of Family Meeting Models: The Role of Teamwork and Parent Engagement in Improving Permanency

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Graduate School of Social Work


In child welfare, family meeting models are an important social innovation designed to develop individualized case plans through a family-centered and collaborative approach. Effective teamwork and parent engagement are key elements of family meetings. Previous studies report mixed results about the practical impacts of family meetings, perhaps due to a failure to elucidate how the key elements of the models are associated with the intended outcomes. This study utilized administrative data that reviewed child welfare cases in a Midwestern state in the U.S. to examine interactions between teamwork and parent engagement associated with the permanency of children in out-of-home care (n = 1450). Results indicate that teamwork is positively associated with permanency. Although both mother engagement and father engagement did not show significant main effects, father engagement significantly strengthened the positive relationship between teamwork and permanency. Additionally, a significant three-way interaction between teamwork, father engagement, and mother engagement was found. This interaction suggests that the strength of the positive relationship between teamwork and permanency was dampened when both mothers and fathers engage highly in family meetings. This paper concludes with implications for informing a clear theory of change to advance and diffuse the social innovation of family meeting models.

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