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.
Family Engagement: Partnering With Families to Improve Child Welfare Outcomes
Find information on the foundational elements of the family engagement approach, followed by strategies and promising practices for implementing it for frontline caseworkers who directly engage families to promote safety, permanency, and well-being.
Episode 28: Family Group Decision-Making: Becoming a Family-Centered Agency
Discover lessons learned through the YMCA Families United Family Group Conferencing Program, a recipient of a 2015 Children's Bureau grant within the Building the Evidence for Family Group Decision-Making in Child Welfare discretionary grant cluster.
Using Your Voice: A Guide for Youth on Participating in Case Planning
Find a guide that helps youth in foster care speak up about their wants, needs, concerns, questions, goals, and ambitions. It also covers how to engage with the child welfare system at the individual case level and through greater advocacy efforts.
Decision-Making in Child Welfare for Improved Safety Outcomes
Explore research around decision science and safety decision-making practices in child welfare and learn about decision-making challenges and strategies for improved safety outcomes. Provides an overview of assessment tools, theories, and frameworks ...Read More
Team Decision Making: Key Resources for Assessing Child Risk and Safety
Explore the Team Decision Making approach, which brings together child welfare staff, parents, family members, and community members to discuss safety and evaluate family strengths to develop a plan for moving a case forward.
Assessment and Decision-Making in Cases With Co-Occurring Issues
Find a video that explores decision-making and cross-system collaboration across three phases of child welfare interactions with families experiencing co-occurring issues—front-end investigation, case planning/service provision, and case resolution.