Strengths of families of at-risk youth: a Delphi study through family assessment and planning teams

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Virginia Tech


In 1992 the Virginia General Assembly enacted the Comprehensive Services Act with the words, "It is the intention of this law to create a collaborative system of services ...that addressing the strengths and needs of troubled and at-risk youth and their families in the Commonwealth" (A report to the Governor and General Assembly, 1992, Appendix A, p.1).

The directives of the Comprehensive Services Act are carried out in each community through a Family Assessment and Planning Team (FAPT). The members on each FAPT represent family service agencies based in the community and a parent who collaboratively develop an intervention plan for each at-risk youth and family referred to the team. This study was conducted to determine if the family strengths used by FAPTs were more or less useful depending upon FAPT communities or FAPT representatives.

The method chosen for gathering information for the study was a modified Delphi technique. The 70 FAPT representatives who participated in the study came from 17 respondent groups, (nine FAPT Communities and eight FAPT Representative areas). One aspect of the study was to find which family strengths were unique to the upper quartile of only one respondent group. A second aspect of the study was to find which common family strengths were in the upper quartiles of each of the 17 respondent groups, the nine FAPT Communities, and the eight FAPT Representatives. The third aspect of the study was to look at upper quartile family strengths as they were grouped by categories.

This report helped identify some of the differences in perspectives among family service providers from different communities and areas of representation. Even though there were some differences among the 17 respondent groups regarding the usefulness of family strengths, there were also some commonalities. This report helped to identify some of these common perspectives among family service providers.