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May 2005Vol. 6, No. 4Strengthening the Triangle of Support for Children in Out-of-Home Placements

Relationships among birth families, resource families, and child welfare workers can be challenging. Yet if child permanency outcomes are to be improved, child-serving agencies must find ways to help these groups work together effectively. In a recent paper published by the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning (NRCFCPPP), consultant L. L. Lutz discusses common challenges and promising strategies in enhancing relationships among these groups at every stage of the out-of-home placement process, from recruiting resource families to making permanency decisions.

The lessons learned discussed in the paper arose from "facilitated dialogues" conducted in a number of States by the NRCFCPPP. Facilitated dialogues are a model of technical assistance designed to address the tensions, role confusion, and communication problems among birth families, resource families, and child welfare workers. Each facilitated dialogue begins with a presentation on the complexities of these relationships and is followed by a discussion of a specific case study. Social workers, resource parents, and birth parents all provide input to the discussion of the case study, and issues are identified that affect child stability. Once the problems are identified, organizational leaders commit to finding solutions.

This paper, Relationship Between Public Child Welfare Workers, Resource Families and Birth Families: Preventing the Triangulation of the Triangle of Support, is available on the NRCFCPPP website at (PDF 689 KB).