Tuesday, December 19, 2006
"In an effort to correct dysfunctional foster care systems, a growing number of child welfare agencies around the country are reaching outside their ranks to involve troubled families and the people in their lives in wrenching decisions about where endangered children should live. Some agencies find that by enlisting help from grandparents, church members, school counselors and sports coaches, they can reach faster, safer and more lasting decisions that result in fewer children languishing in foster care. Under the practice, known as team decision making, a group is assembled within 24 to 48 hours after a state agency is called into a crisis situation.
Programs exist in at least 21 states. Indiana, Michigan and Tennessee have adopted the team-approach statewide, while other programs are run at the county level. Officials in Denver County, Colo., credit the team approach for a 32 percent drop in out-of-home placements since 2002. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, the program has reduced the number of children in foster care by more than half since 2001. Tennessee has reduced the number of children in state care by more than 1,000 since March 2004, when there were 10,600 in the system." By Lynette Clemetson, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 12-18-06 NVS)