Implementing Family Team Conferencing into an Existing System of Care: Lessons Learned From a Federally-Funded Grant

Toni Spoliansky

Family Team Conference Manager

Partnership for Strong Families

Co- presenters

Dr. Robin Perry, Principle Investigator, Institute for Children and Families Services

Dr. Jane Yoo, C- Principle


FTC Manager/ Grant Director

Toni Spoliansky has worked in the Utilization Management department with the Partnership for Strong Families since its inception in 2007.  Ms. Spoliansky has 7 years of child welfare experience, serving in both front line and managerial roles.

Pebbles Edelman, L.M.H.C.

Senior VP of Clinical and Community Services

Pebbles Edelman has more than 15 years of experience in child welfare and mental health. In her current position she oversees utilization management, prevention and diversion services, provider and community relations and resource development.

Robin Perry, PhD

Principal Investigator

Dr. Perry has eight years of practice experience in child welfare and domestic violence settings, including serving as a child protective investigator and service worker. He is currently associate professor of social work at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) University and Director for the Institute for Child and Family Services Research in Tallahassee, Florida. He has worked as a researcher in the child welfare field for 15 years and has published and presented more than 75 papers on child welfare topics.

Jane Yoo, PhD

Co- Principal Investigator

Jane Yoo is Founder and President of Clarus Research—a consulting company that provides evaluation and research services to non-profit, for-profit and government agencies that serve children, youth and families.  Prior to launching Clarus Research, Dr. Yoo was Founder and Executive Director of Results Research (R2), which is a non-profit 501(c)3 research organization that works toward the advancement of applied behavioral research on practice with children and families.

Focus Areas:

Collaboration and Partnership

Level of Learning:


Learning Objectives:

Learning Objectives:

•             Highlight and discuss possible barriers and factors that impact the feasibility and perceived value and utility of Family Team Conferencing within an established system of care.

•             Identify formal and informal mechanisms for developing support among collaborative partners (including service providers, child welfare administrators and workers, community resources, court system and public defenders, etc.) for integrating Family Team Conferencing models into a system of care.

•             Identify key elements within the service delivery system (i.e., processes, protocols, and service philosophy) needed to ensure that the benefits of family engagement and empowerment are maximized.

•             Identify tenets of a philosophy of practice necessary for the integration of Family Team Conferencing and Solution-Based Casework.

Practice/Skill-based Applications:

•             Develop successful strategies for building a strong partnership between collaborative entities to implement and sustain evidence based practices.

•             Learn about evidence-based practice models of family engagement.

•             Learn about solution-based case work.

•             Apply effective practice components of Family Team Conferencing to child welfare practice.

•             Learn about critical contextual factors that impact the implementation of new practice models within a broader system of care.

Description:  The Partnership for Strong Families’ philosophy has historically supported community-based practice, evidence-based practice and decision-making, collaborative and strength-based approaches, and innovation. This foundation led to questions regarding the effectiveness of a model of Family Group Decision Making (referred to as Family Team Conferencing or FTC) being utilized that depended solely upon case managers as facilitators with limited engagement/involvement of extended family supports and providers. The Partnership for Strong Families (PSF) is at the end of a three-year experimental study testing the effectiveness of three different FTC models.

This workshop will provide an overview of project activities over the course of the study, including efforts, processes, protocols, and lessons learned about the implementation of FTCs. Focus will be placed on collaborations and dialog between key partners, including PSF, Department of Children and Families, case management agencies, the court and public defenders, grant staff, front-line workers, local evaluators, guardian ad litem staff, information technology staff, and quality assurance personnel across each of the major stakeholders.  A practice model that fuses family team conferencing and solution-based casework will be presented that utilizes findings from the experimental study while considering feasibility issues along with organizational culture and administrative priorities.