The first ‘Team Around the Child’ meeting we had was after my son’s autism diagnosis when he was 2 and a half years old. I didn’t really know what to expect from the meeting, I soon realised it was a great opportunity to pull together all the people working with my son.
What is a Team Around the Child meeting?
A Team Around the Child or TAC meeting brings together all the different agencies and professionals that are working with a child. The purpose of the meeting is to ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals and sharing relevant information with each other.
The main aim is to provide a co-ordinated approach to delivery of services for the young person. Sounds simple and it really is. However too often these meetings don’t happen and you have different agencies or professionals either working towards different goals or repeating work that has already been done.
Who attends a Team Around the Child meeting?
It will depend on your child but essentially you want any professionals working with your child regularly to attend. The key people to invite are the parents and key workers from school or nursery. For my autistic son here are some of the professionals that have attended TAC meetings in the past:
- Health Visitor
- Nursery or school Keyworkers
- Nursery or school SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) or Inclusion Manger
- Inclusion or SEN staff from the local authority (Special Educational Needs team)
- ASD support staff (from local Autism Services team)
- Portage or Children’s Centre Staff
- Speech and Language therapist
- Occupational Therapists
My son had a dual placement and attended two different nursery settings so it was important to have staff from both settings attend. In some cases professionals working with your child might not be able to attend. It is still important to make sure they are invited and asked to send any information they feel relevant to the meeting. We had reports from private speech consultants that we took to the meetings but did not have the consultants attend.
What is the agenda at a Team Around the Child meeting?
The agenda and what you cover at a Team Around the Child meeting will be different depending on the child’s needs. You may have a particular goal that needs to be the focus of the meeting such as getting a diagnosis, transition to school, applying for Disability Living Allowance or starting the Education Health and Care Plan process. Sometimes a meeting will be more focused on the child’s current needs and how best to support them.
A typical meeting might follow this agenda:
- Welcome and Introductions. Not everyone will know each other.
- Share information
- Shared documents, are there documents that need to be shared such as progress reports, assessments or diagnosis letters.
- What is working well at the moment? It is great for everyone to share what works. This can lead to further support outside of the meeting such as the speech therapist showing your nursery keyworkers some techniques to support your child.
- What support is currently needed? Is anything not going so well, can others offer support in these areas or do you need to access support from elsewhere?
- Have we got a plan / outcomes?
- What needs to happen next, do you need to do some paperwork such as a one page profile or a Common Assessment Framework? Do you have goals that you are all working together on with the child. This may be in the form of a targeted outcome plan (TOP).
- Who will take oversight of that plan? For every action agreed at the meeting someone needs to be responsible for it. This is to make sure it actually happens. You may also need to appoint a Lead Professional especially if you are going to request an Education Health and Care Plan.
- Next Meeting Date. Agree when the group needs to meet next, this will depend on the child’s needs. If there is no specific date that is relevant every 6 weeks might be a good place to start .
Keeping records and meeting minutes
It is important that someone takes notes at any Team Around the Child meeting. The minutes then need to be typed up with all the key information including:
- The date and location
- Who attended – full names
- What was discussed
- What was agreed
- The action points and who is responsible for the actions
- Date of the next meeting
The minutes should be shared with all of the attendees and anyone who was invited but unable to attend. This is to ensure everyone is moving forward with the same information.
What are Targeted Outcome Plans?
Targeted Outcome Plans or TOPs are regularly updates plans that identify targets for a child within an early years setting. It includes the long term outcomes with short term targets to meet the outcomes. It will also include strategies and activities that will be used to meet the targets.
Children with any additional need require everyone to be in agreement about the goals and outcomes needed. If everyone is working towards the same outcomes your child be more likely to achieve them. Some will be straightforward goals that can be met easily and others will take a long time to achieve. Having everyone working with your child agree what goals you are working on also means they can all offer advice and support on how to meet those outcomes. It is the professionals who were best placed to advise me on what strategies to use with my son.
Team Around the Family / Child in Need
You will find meetings called different things in different settings but often mean the same as a Team Around the Child. However a Team Around the Family or Child in Need meeting may be more focused on safeguarding the child. If you are confused ask for more information about why a meeting is happening before you attend.
Who is responsible for a TAC?
Usually the meetings will be led by the nursery or school setting. However anyone is able to ask for the meeting including the parents. If you want a meeting then you can organise it however usually the school or nursery is best placed to do this. However as parents we are usually the most aware of who is working with our children, so its best we check who has been invited and make suggestions of who should attend.
Top tips for Team Around the Child meetings
- The child’s needs are the most important and this should be the focus of the meeting.
- Everyone should be working together on an agreed outcome.
- If the child is able to present their own views / needs to the meeting this should happen as it is about them. In some cases this won’t be appropriate. The child’s views or opinion’s should be taken into account.
- Think about any key points that you want to raise and write them down in advance. You will often find you forget key points in a meeting so having them with you (written down) means you will remember to raise them.
- The agenda and any key documents should be shared with all attendees in advance.
- Minutes are vital, the parents should not have to do the minutes as they are part of the meeting. Minutes may be requires as evidence at a later date so keep hold of them.
I hope this has been helpful – do let me know in the comments below.
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