Family Team Meetings














What is a Family Team?A Family Team is defined as:  “a group of people whom has been chosen by the family of a child with behavioral health concern(s) or is involved in Nebraska’s Child and Family Services systems”. The role of this team is to help a family to talk about, and then develop or locate, the services and supports that the family needs to help their child and family to reach their goals.What is Family/Person Centered Practice?

Family/Person Centered Practice is a family/person driven, community-oriented, strength based, highly individualized planning process aimed at helping people meet their unmet needs both within and outside of formal human services systems, while they remain in their neighborhoods and homes, whenever possible. It is as simple as people helping people, including friends, neighbors, family and service providers gathering around a family or individual and asking the crucial question, “what do the members of this family need to have a better life?”  This is commonly achieved through development of a Family Team.

You and your family choose who will be on your Child and Family Team.

A Family Team Meeting is a place where your family describes what your family is like, and to talk about the services or supports that might help your family. It is a place to tell your Family’s Story.

You and your child will work with your Family Team to set your own goals. The team will help you to talk about what your child and your family needs to help your family to be successful. The team members will help your family to find or develop the services and supports to help you to reach your goals.  If you are involved with Children and Family Services or the court system, you need to know that a person from either of those systems may sit on your team, and help to agree on team members. Even when someone else has temporary responsibility for your child, you will still make most of the decisions that affect your family.

Family Team Planning Services and supports are based on what families do well – your strengths. All families have strengths. Families do not like feeling blamed for their child’s problems, and this is not acceptable in a Child and Family Team. Instead, services are built around what your individual family likes and does well.

The team is responsible to help find or create services and supports that are based on your family’s interests and strengths. The services and supports you choose will help your family to reach their goals. These services and supports are written into a Family Service Plan or a Case Plan.

Does this sound different from what you have heard about or experienced before? It is! For many years, services have been developed and provided by people who do not know the family well, or who have not really looked at what families do well. Today, families are part of a team of people who plan together, and who base services on what the families know about their children and themselves. This is called “family-centered services.” The Nebraska Family Team Meeting process is about respecting families to make their own decisions.

The Family Facilitator

Each Family Team has a facilitator. This person contacts team members, and sets up meetings for the team. Sometimes the person also runs the meeting. Your family may want to share these responsibilities with other team members. The facilitator will help your family and the team to list your family’s strengths. This process is called a strengths and culture discovery. It is used to determine what families do well, and to help families set and reach their goals. The reason that culture is part of the discussion about family strengths is because a family’s culture, language, habits and traditions are also part of their unique strengths. Cultural celebrations, rituals, practices and beliefs help to connect individuals to their community and support through tough times. The facilitator will also help to list the strengths and skills of the team. Together, your family and the team will use the strengths to help your family to reach its goals. If, for instance, one team member is good at finding community resources, that person might help find an after school program for a child, for example. There may be times when young people want to run their own team, especially adolescents. The parents and facilitator, working together, can support the young person’s growth by helping him/her with the tasks needed to run an effective team.

Finding support and information

Everyone needs support!


Some families will talk with other family members about the challenges and joys of raising children, while other families may want to talk with another parent. Still others will want to join a parent support group where they can share stories and find solutions for their family. Some parents will simply want to talk on the telephone with another person who understands what they are experiencing.

Many agencies have partnerships with your local Family Organizations and can provide support to families. Parents who want to find someone with a “child like theirs” or who just want to share ideas with another parent may ask their Family Team facilitator for a referral. Parents may also call their local Family Organization to help identify supports and information.

There are Family Organizations located in all areas across Nebraska, designed to provide assistance and support that works for your family. The Family Organization will work with you and your family to find services and supports, including support groups or connections with another parent. This service is FREE to families!


  Steps to a Family Team

  1. Decide who is on the team 
  2. Decide where and when the team will meet
  3. Identify the child and family’s strengths
  4.  Help set goals and outcomes with the family in a Family Service Plan/Case Plan
  5.  Identify the child and family’s needs by looking at different areas of life
  6.  Decide what to work on first
  7.  Help the team to find different ways to meet the needs, and base the services on what families do well – the strengths of the family
  8.  Help develop a Crisis Plan or Safety Plan
  9.  Review the Family Service Plan/Case Plan and change when needed 
  10. Cheer on Plan progress! Celebrate!


Step ONE: Decide who is on the team

The people you choose to be on your team may include:


    Friends or neighbors

    Spiritual leaders

    People from work

    Agency staff

    Family support



Your team is a group of people who know you and your family. They may have helped you in the past. Or they may be new friends who want to help. It takes a little time to build your team, but it is worth the work. It helps to start with team members that you are comfortable with. Others can be added later.

Step TWO: Decide where you would like to meet.  A Family Team can meet anywhere you choose.

Some families like meeting in their homes. Some would rather meet in an office. Some families like public spaces, such as the library, a child’s school, or a local park. Talk to your team about when would be the best time to meet. The facilitator will work with you to choose a time that works for your family and team. What is important is to choose a place where you and your family feel comfortable and a time that works with your schedule.

Step THREE: Identify your child’s and family’s strengths

The Child and Family Team will develop a plan of services and supports that are strengths-based and needs-driven. This means that services are based on things your family is good at or likes, and things that may have worked for you in the past. The facilitator will ask about what you and your child like to do, your hobbies and interests, and what your family does well. The facilitator will help the team to develop a list of family strengths so the team:

    Learns about your child and your family

    Has a picture of your strengths and needs (sometimes people only hear about your problems)

    Knows the social connections and concrete supports your family and the team has (Resources are family members, neighbors, healers, teachers, etc.)

Step FOUR Set goals/outcomes and strategies with the family.

Setting goals starts with thinking about changes you want for your child and your family. The act of setting goals (or outcomes) is a process and does not typically occur in one setting.  Goals may include things like talking with one another more effectively, or finding new ways to have fun together. This is the time to create a vision for how your family might look if everyone was doing well, and to develop outcomes to get there. Outcomes are usually written as GOALS. The outcomes you want to focus on helps determine what services and supports are needed. Goals/outcomes show others where you want to go. If you meet the goals, the plan was successful. If you do not, the team will help you create new ways to help meet the goals. Sometimes outcomes are determined by the courts. If so, these goals/outcomes will also be part of your Child and Family Plan/Case Plan. If the courts are involved, you must tell your team if you will need supports to meet court goals.








    School and Work

    Medical Home

    Child and Family

Once outcomes/goals have been agreed upon, the team will identify strength-based strategies that focus specifically on the identified needs.  They include what is going to happen.  By whom? By When? Strategies reflect the family/individual’s strengths, culture, values and choices so they “fit” the people involved. They must be clear, concisely described, practical, logical and realistic.  Strategies can change over time as team members take the opportunity to really know your family or the strategies are not working to benefit your family.

Step FIVE: Identify needs by looking at all areas of life

After families decide what outcomes/goals they want, there needs to be time to assess the family strengths and then the needs.  Needs are statements directly related to the desired outcome/goal.  Needs are a bridge between current reality and a person’s dreams.  Needs are not the same as services. Your family may have needs in any area. These needs are sometimes called Life Domains, which are priority areas of your life.  Once needs are identified, solutions to meet the needs can be addressed and they can either be a service or a task.  The Child and Family Team will talk about different ways to meet needs.

The team will help them decide what services or supports are needed to reach the outcomes. These include things like:

Getting to medical appointments, making it to school, managing anger, doing homework, taking medicine on time making friends, having a break from one another, counseling, learning to control anger, etc. 

Some ways needs can be addressed could include:

    Identification of roles for informal supports, such as a friend or a mentor for a child, or a babysitting club

    Identification of formal services, such as counseling, after school programs, or in-home behavior skill building

Step SIX: Decide what to work on first

Once you decide on the areas you want to work on, you can prioritize the areas you want to work on first. The team will talk about many different ways to help meet needs. Working on two or three needs is a good start. The entire Child and Family Team will make suggestions about ways to help your family meet needs. This is called brainstorming. It is like a flood of ideas. The team will help with ideas, but your family will make the decisions about which tactics to implement.

Step SEVEN: Find ways to meet needs, and base services on strengths

The team will talk about lots of ideas, and may even suggest what they think might be helpful to reach your goals. You do not need to make a choice just because a service is available or just because someone else likes the choice. Pick those ideas that you like, and that build on your child and family’s strengths. When you choose an idea that matches the strengths of your family, it is much more likely that it will work to meet your needs.

Step EIGHT: Develop a Family Plan/Case Plan and a Crisis Plan

Family planning is a process of identifying outcomes based on various life domain areas, specific strengths and needs that are specific to each family/individual’s circumstances and they help set the stage for all subsequent planning. Outcomes allow families to be heard and they provide direction, focus and accountability, and should be written to be: SMART, (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely).

Once the individual and family strengths, choices and assets are identified, the team can begin to develop a plan.  For instance:

Unmet Need:                                     Strategy:                                Related Strength(s):

Crisis planning is a process of keeping a child and family safe and is part of the planning process. A crisis plan will list the steps you and team members can take to prevent a crisis or that will be taken in a crisis. A Crisis Plan asks “What could go wrong?”

 The Crisis Plan helps the team:

    Predict: talk about the worst thing that could happen

    Prevent: develop options to prevent crises

    Plan: develop a plan: ”what to do if a crisis happens”

    A crisis plan must work day or night, any day of the week. The plan must be Easy to follow and include, “who, what, when, and where”. The team makes sure the family has the supports and resources needed to carry out the plan. For example:    Safety Issue:                                    Plan: 


Step NINE: Review the Family Service Plan and Crisis Plan, and revise as needed.

Your team will meet to review your Family Service Plan and Crisis Plan to see how it is working. The team will make changes if things are not going as planned. Once the plan is finished, you will want to think about whether it really fits your family. If someone were to ask, “What grade would you give your Family Service Plan?” What you say can help to improve the process, services and supports for your family and for other families in Nebraska.

Step TEN: Cheer the PLAN!! Celebrate Success!




Once the Child and Family Plan is in place, it will outline the supports and services that are to be provided to your child and family. “Cheering the Plan” means celebrating small and large successes. It also means telling your child –often – what he or she is doing that is good. You and your family can build on these successes to feel good about themselves and their families, and to begin to achieve the goals that all parents dream of for their children. You are on a journey with your child and your family. Every parent feels exhausted, helpless, or overwhelmed at times – and you probably will too. This is normal! Do not be afraid to reach out for help, for many others have been on the same journey. The behavioral health and child welfare system will improve only if families take charge of their lives, tell others what they need, and decide on services that are based on their child’s and their family’s individual strengths and needs. We wish you the very best!