This series of short essays is intended as an introduction to TAC or as a refresher course for everyone around babies and infants who need special support for their development and learning. The article can be translated for use in newsletters, networks and websites in any country
THIRD PRINCIPLE: Once TAC members have each acquired first knowledge of the child’s strengths and needs and of the family situation, they agree a single, unified, holistic TAC Action Plan. This should conform to the initial TAC agreement made with the family.
Team Around the Child approach has a primary objective of preventing the fragmentation that occurs inevitably when the people around each child and family act separately from each other – and even, sometimes, in ignorance of who else is involved. The aim is for single TAC Plan rather than a collection of separate plans. This reduces the potential confusion and overload when parents have a separate plan from each of the people involved.
The TAC Plan is unified because it integrates everyone’s work into a coherent pattern in which all parts fit together harmoniously. Included here are parents’ approaches as well as those of practitioners. The Plan is holistic because it considers all relevant parts of the child’s development and learning. Included here can be movement, communication, dexterity, cognition, posture, self-esteem, feeling, memory, listening, looking and more.
Each child’s TAC is a learning process. When the informal agreement was made between the family and practitioners at the time when the family were accepting this support, very little was known about the child except that her or his needs fitted with what the support service could cater for. TAC practitioners’ first sessions with the child will bring their knowledge to a higher level so that they can roughly plan their future work and contribute to the TAC Plan. As work progresses, each practitioner continues learning about the child using their preferred assessment processes.
A TAC Action Plan outlines how the TAC is going to operate in broad terms rather than giving details of separate programmes. A TAC Plan can include:
- The names and roles of TAC members who will be regularly and practically involved with contact details.
- Where these people will do their work/play with the child – in hospital, clinic, centre or child’s home.
- The particular elements of the child’s development and learning that will be prioritised in this phase of the TAC process.
- Any sessions to be done jointly by TAC members, for instance with shared sessions or integrated programmes.
- Regularity of the various sessions.
- Plans for any at-a-distance conversations with phone or video communication.
- Any plans for filming the child to aid discussion and observe progress.
- The date of the TAC meeting when the TAC Plan will be reviewed and refreshed.
As TAC practitioners learn more about the child, so will they learn more about the family’s situation, strengths and needs. Family needs can be extensive requiring much more time and skill than is available from TAC members. Where there is agreement about getting some outside help to the family, for instance about sleep, this can be put into the TAC Plan. The decision here might be to contact another professional or agency with parent’s permission.
The TAC Plan is an agreed outline of how support will be offered in the first phase and, broadly, of what the work will focus on. After an agreed period of time, the plan is refreshed or re-written for the next phase. Obviously, the Plan will be written and shared between TAC members. There may be a need for other people who are supporting the child and family on a less regular basis to see the Plan. This would be with the agreement of parents.
When a parent has spoken to a TAC member in confidence, this would not be discussed in TAC meetings and any agreed actions would not be written into the Plan. An example might be discussion of deteriorating relationships within the family or of private money matters.
See: TAC for the 21st Century. On pages 54 and 55 there is discussion of ‘The TAC meeting in the Planning Phase’.