DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 13: Cross Program Protocols
13-8 Team Decision Making (TDM)

 

Cross Program Protocols
13-8  Team Decision Making (TDM)
Reference Points
Overview
DFCS TDM Policy

TDM's in Emergency Response

TDM's in AIC Diversion
TDM's in Dependent Intake
TDMs in Service Bureaus and Voluntary Service Programs
Issues Not Appropriate for TDM
How to Make a Referral for a TDM
Roles and Responsibilities Related to TDMs
TDM Meeting Locations
TDM Confidentiality Issues
TDM Domestic Violence Policy
Other References


Reference Points
Effective Date: In effect
Last Updated: 9/7/11
 Legal Basis:
Popup Window Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) § 827
PDF Standing Court Order for Sharing Information during TDM


Overview  

Team Decision Making (TDM) is a forum used to provide a strength-based, family focused setting for reaching consensus on placement and removal decisions regarding children entering or already dependents in the child welfare system. TDM is used as a process whereby DFCS staff, family members, providers of services and neighborhood representatives collaboratively address safety and placement needs for children and reach a consensus on a plan that protects children, while preserving families. Through this inclusive process, more informed decisions can be made that are owned by the team and community. TDMs further the goals of DFCS for children to have as few changes in living situations and care providers as possible and to experience minimum adverse and maximum beneficial consequences when a change in living situation and care provider(s) is necessary.

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DFCS TDM Policy  

It is Department policy that it is mandatory for social work staff to refer cases for TDM under the following conditions:

  • Removal of children from their parents or legal guardians.

  • Initial placements of children, after they are placed in temporary custody.

  • When a child’s placement changes, preferably before the placement change occurs.
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TDM's in Emergency Response  

During an Emergency Response (ER) investigation, if consideration is given to removing a child from the home:

  • Who is not already under DFCS supervision, best practice dictates that a TDM meeting be held prior to the actual removal.
  • Who currently is under DFCS supervision, a TDM must be held prior to the removal except in the case of emergency removals described below.

Note: If the decision reached as a result of the TDM is that the child be removed from the home, the social worker may need to obtain a Protective Custody warrant to authorize the removal.

 







For emergency removals, TDMs may be held after the child is removed when:

  • While conducting the field investigation, the ER social worker determines that the risk to the child warrants immediate removal.
  • The removal is made between the hours of 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. and on weekends and holidays.
  • There is a Joint Response.
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TDM's in AIC Diversion  

Assessment Intake Center (AIC) social workers are required to schedule a TDM:

  • For any referral that is determined to be divertible.
    • Divertible referrals include all referrals in which:
      • The family is to receive voluntary services.
      • Consideration is given to placement with a relative or NREFM.
    • TDMs occur as soon as possible or within 24 hours of removal.
    • Specified slots are reserved each day to accommodate these emergency referrals.

  • Anytime the child’s placement is changed.
    • This includes a return home from out-of-home care.

If the AIC social worker is filing a 300 Petition, the TDM is scheduled at the earliest possible time, preferably prior to the filing of the petition and the Initial Petition (Detention) Hearing. Current procedures regarding legally mandated petition filing deadlines remain consistent with existing practice.

If an ER social worker was involved in the removal of the child from the family home, the ER social worker may be requested or required to attend the TDM, when appropriate.

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TDM's in Dependent Intake  

Dependent Intake social workers are required to schedule a TDM:

  • For any referral that is determined to be divertible.
    • Divertible referrals include all referrals in which:
      • The family is to receive voluntary services.
      • Consideration is given to placement with a relative or NREFM.
    • The TDM occurs at the earliest possible time, during the dependent intake investigation process, preferably prior to the filing of the 300 Petition and the Initial Petition (Detention) Hearing. Current procedures regarding legally mandated petition filing deadlines remain consistent with existing practice.
    • Specified slots are reserved each day to accommodate these emergency referrals.

  • As the first step in requesting wraparound services or placement of the child in a group home or Community Care Facility.

  • Anytime the child’s placement is changed.
    • This includes a return home from out-of-home care.

If an ER social worker was involved in the removal of the child from the family home, the ER social worker may be requested or required to attend the TDM, when appropriate.

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TDMs in Service Bureaus and Voluntary Service Programs  

Continuing, Voluntary Family Maintenance and Informal Supervision social workers are required to schedule a TDM:

  • Prior to the removal of a child from the family home, if possible, except in the circumstances listed under the second bullet.
    • When a TDM is held prior to the removal of a child from a family home, and the decision is reached that the child must be removed, the social worker will generally be required to obtain a Protective Custody warrant and file a 387 warrant petition, in the case of dependent children, or a 300 warrant petition, for non-dependent children.

  • After the removal of a child from the family home in the following circumstances:
    • While conducting a field investigation, the social worker determines that the risk to the child warrants immediate removal.
    • The removal is made between the hours of 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. and on weekends and holidays.
    • TDM held after the removal should be scheduled prior to the filing of the 387 or 300 Petition and Detention Hearing.

  • When there is a placement disruption.
    • TDM occurs as soon as possible or within 24 hours of the child’s removal from the placement.
    • Specified slots are reserved each day to accommodate these emergency referrals.

  • When there is a possible placement change.
    • TDM occurs as soon as the possible change in placement is known.
  • As the first step in requesting wraparound services or placement of the child in a group home or Community Care Facility.
  • Prior to the child returning home from out-of-home care.
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Issues Not Appropriate for TDM's   Social workers should not schedule a TDM for the purpose of a behavioral intervention with a child.  Meetings with children and parents or substitute caregivers concerning the behavior of the child can be arranged within the context of counseling or wraparound program, if the child is receiving such services. Alternately, the social worker can meet with the child, individually, or can schedule a meeting with the child and parents or substitute caregivers to discuss the behavioral issues.
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How to Make a Referral for a TDM Meeting  

When a DFCS social worker and supervisor determine the need for a TDM, the social worker contacts the Joint Decision-Making (JDM) unit in one of two ways:

  • Calls one of the following Joint Decision-Making Specialists:
    • Norma Cisneros: (408) 793-8819
    • Email: Norma.Cisneros@ssa.sccgov.org

  • Emails the Joint Decision-Making Unit at tdm.tdm@ssa.sccgov.org.
    • When referring by email, please list:
      • The type of TDM meeting requested (removal, diversion, placement disruption, etc.).
      • The date, time and location requested for the TDM.
      • A phone number where a JDM Specialist can contact you the same day that you email the referral.
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Roles and Responsibilities Related to TDM's  

TDM Specialist

There are two TDM specialists who social workers contact to set up the TDM meeting.  The TDM specialist:

  • Schedules the meeting.
    • Determines the time and location of the meeting based upon:
      • Preference for a location that is convenient for the family.
      • The location requested by the Social Worker.
      • Special client needs.
      • Safety issues.

      Meetings will be held at the Children’s Shelter when a security need or safety issue is identified.
         
  • Selects the facilitator.

  • Notifies the Social Worker and participants (except the child, parents/legal guardians and caregiver) of the date, time and location of the meeting:
    • It is the social worker's responsibility to invite the child, parents and caregiver.
    • Other participants that the TDM specialist may invite include Domestic Violence Advocate, Community Partners, Child Advocate and other DFCS staff.

  • Notifies the Legal Advocates for Children and Youth (LACY) office as to the purpose of the TDM, if the TDM involves a dependent child.
    • Fax the TDM Notification form to the LACY's Fax: (408)288-8850.

  • Invites an interpreter, if needed.

  • Arranges for child supervision, if requested.



Social Worker

The assigned social worker:

  • Calls the TDM specialist to schedule a TDM.

  • Notifies the child (if appropriate), parents/legal guardians and relatives of the date, time and location of the meeting.
    • Children 12 and over may, and are encouraged to, participate in the TDM, if appropriate.
    • In no circumstance may children under 12 participate in the TDM.
      • Child care can be arranged by the TDM specialist.

  • Arranges or provides transportation for the child to the meeting, if the child’s participation is appropriate.

  • Alerts the TDM specialist of any client’s history of violence, sexual abuse, language/cultural needs.

  • Notifies the TDM specialist if child supervision will be necessary.

  • Works to reach a consensus among the group participants in the TDM.

  • Is responsible for carrying out the Department’s mandate to ensure the safe placement of the child and, as such, is the primary decision-maker as to where the child will be placed.



TDM Facilitator
The TDM facilitator is a trained process expert who is knowledgeable on DFCS policies and procedures. The TDM facilitator:

  • Convenes and conducts the TDM.

  • Ensures adherence to TDM policy and procedures.

  • Provides a written TDM Plan to participants outlining the decision and action steps.

  • May seek review of the social worker’s decision.

In the event that placement decisions must be made before the occurrence of a TDM, case carrying social workers are directed to consult with their immediate supervisor for appropriate course of action. However, a TDM must be held following the placement decisions.

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Locations of TDM's  

TDM meetings may be scheduled in any of the following locations:

  • 333 W. Julian Office (Bldg. 1)

  • Family Resource Centers
    • Asian Pacific Family Resource Center
    • Nuestra Casa Family Resource Center
    • Ujirani Family Resource Center
    • Gilroy Family Resource Center

  • Sunnyvale Community Services (as available)

  • Columbia Neighborhood Center (as available)

  • Other sites as necessary
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TDM Confidentiality Issues  

All information regarding the child and family is confidential and cannot be shared with persons unless they are authorized by law to receive confidential child welfare information. This means that, in general, relatives and community partners are not entitled to receive information related to the child abuse investigation or court proceeding at TDMs. (WIC § 827)

In Santa Clara County social workers are authorized to share limited information with relatives and community partners at TDM meetings under a standing court order signed by Judge Leonard Edwards on 8/20/03. The standing court order permits DFCS to share “limited information which is relevant specifically to the child’s placement that would otherwise be confidential” with relatives and participants in the TDM meeting, so long as they sign a Statement of Confidentiality and so long as a disclosure does not violate the child’s right to privacy.

 

What Specific Information Can Be Disclosed About the Child at a TDM Meeting?

Yes No
The fact that the child is in temporary custody? The fact that the child is in temporary custody? X  
The fact that the child is under FDCS supervision? X  
The terms of any existing visitation order? X  
The child’s appointment schedule? X  
The child’s special needs? X  
The child’s anticipated behaviors? X  
 
The child’s HIV status?   X
The child’s pregnancy status?   X
The child’s mental health diagnosis?   X
The child’s psychological evaluation?   X
The details of the child abuse?   X
The child’s rap sheet?   X
The child’s IEP documentation?   X
The child’s sexual orientation?   X

 

 

What Information from the TDM Meeting Can Be Reported to the Court?

Yes No
A summary of the TDM issues? X  
A summary of the TDM decisions and action plan? X  
 
Quotes from the TDM participants?   X
Summary of statements from participants?   X
Notes taken at the TDM meeting?   X

 

Any notes taken by the social worker during the TDM meeting relating to the identification of issues and the outcomes/action plan should be logged in the social worker’s file. All other notes should be destroyed in order to preserve the confidential nature of the TDM meeting.

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TDM Domestic Violence Policy  

Before a TDM meeting, if the social worker requesting the TDM meeting is aware of any suspected or identified DV issues within the family, the worker assesses for lethality. The TDM specialist must be alerted of the DV issues and advised of the DV assessment.

  • If the assessment is that there is a low level of risk, the person identified as the perpetrator of the violence may be allowed to participate in the TDM meeting.
  • If the victim of the violence, the social worker and the TDM facilitator all agree that the person identified as the perpetrator of the violence can safely be present, the person identified as the perpetrator may be allowed to participate in the TDM meeting.
  • If there is a “No Contact” order, separate TDM meetings are held, one in which the victim participates and the other in which the perpetrator participates.
  • If there is a “Peaceful Contact” order, the perpetrator cannot participate in person in the TDM meeting but may be able to participate via:
    • A separate TDM meeting.
    • A conference call.
    • Verbal or written input to the social worker prior to or after the TDM.
    • Representation by a victim approved family member or service provider.
     

Whenever DV is identified as a family issue, a DV advocate and batterer intervention facilitator should be invited to the TDM meeting.

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Other References  
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Protective Custody Warrants
MS Word All DFCS Staff Memorandum - 03/04/2005: Mandatory Team Decision-Making (TDM) Policy and Procedures
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