Structured decision-making is an approach to child protective services that uses clearly defined and consistently applied decision-making criteria for screening for investigation, determining response priority, identifying immediate threatened harm, and estimating the risk of future abuse and neglect. Child and family needs and strengths are identified and considered in developing and monitoring progress toward a case plan.
Children's Research Center
Explains the components and use of the Structured Decision-Making system.
Effectiveness of California's Child Welfare Structured Decision-Making (SDM) Model: A Prospective Study of the Validity of the California Family Risk Assessment (PDF - 5350 KB)
Activities and outcomes of the California Child Welfare Structured Decision-Making (SDM) project, which investigated the effectiveness of a set of assessment tools in helping front-line child welfare workers and their supervisors improve their decision-making.
An Evaluation of the Minnesota SDM Family Risk Assessment: Final Report (PDF - 2000 KB)
Loman & Siegel (2004)
Analyzes the instrument's reliability and validity for all populations and for specific cultural subgroups.
Evaluation of Michigan's Foster Care Structured Decision-Making Case Management System (PDF - 305 KB)
National Council on Crime and Delinquency, Children's Research Center (2001)
Study that found agencies using the structured assessments had higher permanency rates than comparison counties.
Also see the addendum (PDF - 104 KB) to this report.
The Next Step: Integrating Actuarial Risk Assessment and Clinical Judgment Into an Evidence-Based Practice Framework in CPS Case Management
Shlonsky & Wagner
Children and Youth Services Review, 27(4), 2005
Highlights the structured decision-making (SDM) approach as an example of an effort to integrate predictive and contextual assessment strategies into child welfare practice.