Making Better Decisions About Kids and Families in Child Welfare

Posted June 1, 2016
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Cwblog Improved Decision Making Path 2016

Mak­ing good deci­sions is cru­cial to the suc­cess of a child wel­fare agency and the out­comes of the kids and fam­i­lies served. In A Child Wel­fare Leader’s Desk Guide to Build­ing a High-Per­form­ing Agency, the Casey Foun­da­tion shows how strong pub­lic agen­cies per­form this impor­tant function.

Espe­cial­ly at the front end of the sys­tem, when agen­cies and fam­i­lies first meet, good deci­sion mak­ing requires staff mem­bers with the right skills, train­ing and super­vi­sion,” said Tracey Feild, direc­tor of Casey’s Child Wel­fare Strat­e­gy Group. Case­work­ers must deter­mine when to pro­vide ser­vices or remove chil­dren from fam­i­lies, and if chil­dren are removed, find the right per­son to care for the child tem­porar­i­ly. Staff must also know how to col­lab­o­rate effec­tive­ly with oth­ers, such as fam­i­lies, the courts and ser­vice providers.”

Hav­ing the right tools, poli­cies and prac­tices is key. Approach­es such as Struc­tured Deci­sion Mak­ing and Team Deci­sion Mak­ing can sup­port good deci­sion mak­ing. Man­age­able case­loads are a must, along with sup­port and incen­tives to keep inves­tiga­tive case­work­ers trained, moti­vat­ed and on the job, Feild said.

These are tough posi­tions,” she said, but as the desk guide describes, there are con­crete steps agen­cies can take to safe­guard against back­logs and pro­tect these essen­tial work­ers from burn­ing out.” 

Learn more about deci­sion-mak­ing prac­tices in the Child Wel­fare Leader’s Desk Guide.

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