Many child welfare agencies use safety and/ or risk assessment instruments to help workers assess families. These tools can provide a structure for assessing current and future harm to the child. However, to be most effective, they should be coupled with a more comprehensive assessment of the family to help engage them in building solutions. Safety and risk assessment instruments are more effective when they are directly connected to service planning and monitoring the ongoing progress of the case. Also find resources specific to the screening and assessment of child trauma. Resources include State and local examples.
Safety and Risk Assessment Frameworks: Overview and Implications for Child Maltreatment Fatalities
Pecora, Chahine, & Graham (2013)
Child Welfare, 92(2)
Highlights current models used in child protection to assess safety and risk and discusses implications for child maltreatment fatalities.
Signs of Safety® Supervisor Practice Fidelity Assessment: Field Test and Evaluation Report
Casey Family Programs (2016)
Provides background information on the Sign of Safety® approach, which aims to conduct risk assessments and produce action plans for increasing safety and reducing risk. The report evaluates the degree to which the delivery of the practice adheres to the program model as intended and makes recommendations for practice improvement in order to increase safety.
Child Safety and Risk Assessments in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities: Research to Practice Brief (PDF - 368 KB)
Keating, Buckless, & Ahonen (2016)
U.S. Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
Provides background on safety and risk assessments in child welfare practice, explores the importance of cultural appropriateness in assessments, and provides examples of tribal communities’ adaptations of assessments to fit their communities.
Policy and Procedures Manual (PDF - 768 KB)
Delaware Family Division (2016)
Provides definitions, policies, and procedures on the Structured Decision Making model. The manual also includes information on the screening assessment, response priority assessment, safety assessment, family risk assessment, and family strengths and needs guide.
Safety and Risk
Children and Family Research Center (2017)
Examines the relationship between safety assessment and maltreatment recurrence in Illinois. Publications are updated annually.
SDM Safety and Risk Assessment Procedure and Reference Manual (PDF - 565 KB)
National Council on Crime and Delinquency, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (2016)
Provides an overview of the Structured Decision Making system as well as the policy and procedures for the safety and family risk assessments of child abuse and neglect.