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Assisting families of children with special needs since 1978
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A little Family-To-Family Advice on attending your first F.A.P.T. Meeting in Alexandria

Attending your first FAPT meeting?

The Alexandria Community Policy Management Team has found that families do not know what to expect when they are initially notified that their child is scheduled for a Family Assessment and Planning Team (FAPT) meeting. The following information, supplied by families who have been through the FAPT process, will help you and your child prepare for your first FAPT meeting.

Q: Why do I have to go to a FAPT meeting?

A: The Commonwealth of Virginia & the City of Alexandria believe that children and families can get the best possible service if all agencies, children, and families work together to develop a plan of services for the child.

Q: What sort of help is available through a plan for service?

A: Many types of assistance are available. They could include mental health counseling, transportation, substance abuse treatment, education, recreation, in-home counseling, help with housing, food, clothing, and other services.

Q: Do all children go to the FAPT?

A: No, only children who have contact with two or more city agencies and whose current services are not accomplishing the outcomes that are hoped for, which may result in out of community placement, or out of home placement need to go to a FAPT meeting.

Q: How was my family selected?

A: A city agency worker and/or your case manager saw the need for additional services and asked your permission to have a FAPT meeting.

Q: What happens at a meeting?

A: You (the parent/guardian), your child (if he or she attends), and the FAPT (representatives of city agencies) work together to build the best service plan for your child. City agencies represented on the FAPT include: Social Services, Courts, Schools, Health, and Mental Health/Mental Retardation/Substance Abuse. A Family Representative serving as a FAPT member will also be present.

Q: Why do so many people come?

A: In order to have as many ideas as possible and to be sure that all available services are known in preparing a comprehensive service plan for your child, a number of city staff need to be at the FAPT meeting.

Q: Can I bring anyone with me?

A: Yes! Bring a family member, friend, minister, family advocate, lawyer, or anyone else for support.

Q: What should I do to prepare?

A: Write down your thoughts, concerns, and questions. Use your Advocate as a sounding board. Think of your child's strengths and your family's strengths. Write them down. Some families bring notebooks with family histories, assessments, and school records. Other families bring a blank notebook to write notes in. Remember that you are an equal partner in the decision-making process and what you know about your child and family is important information in the development of a service plan.

Q: Will my child's situation be discussed in detail?

A: Yes, it is necessary to discuss your child's situation (behavior and attitudes) in detail to prepare a proper service plan. All information at the meeting is confidential.

Q: How should I dress?

A: Dress presentably so you feel comfortable. You may not feel comfortable in jeans when FAPT members are in business clothes.

Q: What is most important to know before the FAPT meeting?

A: It is important to have an open mind. FAPT members can have excellent ideas about help for your child. They are likely to know of help you did not know you had access to. Their job is to create the very best plan for your child. They are on your side.

Q: What is my role in the meeting?

A: You are an equal member in the decision-making process. The meeting is an exchange of ideas among you, your child, and the FAPT. Keep an open mind about new ideas and services. Don't be afraid to participate. Tell the FAPT, "This is the way my child is", "This is what my child does" Ask questions! Make suggestions! If you don't believe a service plan will work, say so! You know your child best and what is likely to work.

Q: What kinds of questions will the FAPT ask me?

A: The FAPT may need to know details of your family situation to properly plan services. If you feel the questions are too personal, please let the FAPT know that the questions are difficult for you to answer at that time - your case manager may be able to speak with you at a different time about those particular questions.

Q: What kinds of questions will the FAPT ask my child, if present?

A: If the child is old enough, let the child speak about his/her needs and what things might help meet those needs. Before going to the FAPT meeting, ask your child what he/she really wants. Include your child as a participant at the FAPT meeting. While the service plan is being developed, encourage your child to comment on it. Your child will be more willing to accept the service plan if he/she feels included in the decision-making. Tell your child to be open & honest. After all, this service plan is being developed to help your child succeed.

Q: Do I need to bring any records to the meeting?

A: The FAPT will have records, and your case manager should supply you with copies in advance of your meeting. Should your case manager fail to supply you with copies, be sure to ask for them! Bring anything you believe will help in developing your child's service plan at the FAPT meeting.

Q: Will a service plan for my child be developed at the FAPT meeting?

A: Yes. Don't allow yourself to be rushed in the process of discussing & developing your child's service plan. You will be asked to review the finalized service plan and asked to sign it. Carefully study your service plan at the table before signing it! Be sure to take a copy of this service plan - don't leave without it.

Q: Can my child's service plan be changed after I agree to it?

A: Yes. Be willing to go the extra mile. If your child's service plan doesn't seem to be working, tell your case manager promptly. Changes and adjustments can be made! You will be amazed at some of the solutions the FAPT can come up with.

Q: If I don't have transportation or directions to the FAPT meeting will someone assist me?

A: Yes, if needed, your FAPT case manager will provide transportation and/or directions. Let your case manager know in advance!

This is a lot of information! Remember, always feel free to discuss any questions you may have with your case manager or family advocateThis is a lot of information! Remember, always feel free to discuss any questions you may have with your case manager or family advocate.

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Content on this site was produced, in part, with grant funds from the U.S. Department of Education, under CFDA # 84.328M, #84.310A, and #84.235F. The content herein does not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Education, any other agency of the U.S. government, or any other source.

PEATC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit committed to building positive futures for Virginia's children by working collaboratively with families, schools and communities in order to improve opportunities for excellence in education and success in school and community life. Our special focus is children with disabilities. You can reach PEATC by calling 703-923-0010 (Voice/TTY), or sending an e-mail to

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