Child welfare professionals make difficult decisions that impact the lives of children, youth, and families. Engaging them as experts in their situations is key to ensuring decisions represent their best interests.  

Information to guide decision-making may come from tools, such as safety and risk assessments, and other agencies and individuals familiar with the family. Approaches such as structured decision-making, with its clearly defined and consistently applied criteria, and family group decision-making, through which families, professionals and others collaborate to create an action plan, may also be used.  

When making decisions concerning entry into foster care, child welfare professionals should assess the immediate safety of the child—not just risk. Professionals should regularly reassess their decisions and approach to supporting the family because the circumstances they face at the outset of a case may change.

Biases regarding race, disability, poverty, and other factors may affect decision-making. These may be personal biases or those reflected in tools or other information sources (e.g., mandated reporters). By recognizing and addressing biases, child welfare professionals can make better decisions to strengthen families.

Review the following resources to improve decision-making in your casework practice and agency. Adjust the filters below to refine your list of resources. 

Can’t find what you need in the filtered results? Try searching our Library catalog to access a large selection of peer-reviewed journal articles, evaluation reports, Children’s Bureau grant materials, research studies, and more.