Team Decision Making Touted as Key to Missouri Child Welfare Improvements

Posted September 25, 2018
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Missouri's Child Welfare Practice Model

When Missouri’s child wel­fare sys­tem set out to adopt a more col­lab­o­ra­tive, fam­i­ly-cen­tered approach, it need­ed a blue­print for change.

Enter the Mis­souri Prac­tice Mod­el, an evi­dence-based approach focused on keep­ing fam­i­lies togeth­er while sup­port­ing sus­tain­able change. A new arti­cle from the Amer­i­can Bar Association’s Cen­ter on Chil­dren and the Law describes how the Mis­souri Children’s Divi­sion cre­at­ed and used this mod­el to achieve large-scale sys­tem reform.

One of the model’s four pil­lars is Team Deci­sion Mak­ing (TDM), a prac­tice method that the Casey Foun­da­tion has devel­oped, test­ed and imple­ment­ed for more than two decades in child wel­fare agen­cies across the nation.

Unlike tra­di­tion­al child wel­fare prac­tice where a sin­gle case­work­er deter­mines what to do in a cri­sis, TDM brings togeth­er par­ents, fam­i­ly, com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers and oth­ers to assess a sit­u­a­tion and deter­mine how best to keep a child safe.

These dis­cus­sions inform the agency’s deci­sion-mak­ing process — and helps them answer ques­tions such as: Can this child remain safe­ly at home?” or Can this child safe­ly return home?”

When fam­i­lies have a voice in dis­cus­sions about per­ma­nen­cy plans, the like­li­hood of suc­cess­ful­ly meet­ing goals increas­es,” says the Amer­i­can Bar Association.

The three oth­er pil­lars of the Mis­souri Child Wel­fare Prac­tice Mod­el include:

  • attend­ing to five domains of well-being;
  • pro­vid­ing trau­ma-informed care; and
  • imple­ment­ing Signs of Safe­ty, a case assess­ment and plan­ning framework.

Missouri’s thought­ful revamp­ing of their prac­tice mod­el pre­pares the state to do bet­ter by chil­dren and fam­i­lies,” says Tracey Feild, direc­tor of Casey’s Child Wel­fare Strat­e­gy Group. Espe­cial­ly today, as states and juris­dic­tions look to imple­ment the path­break­ing new Fam­i­ly First Pre­ven­tion Ser­vices Act, it is essen­tial to have approach­es in place that focus agen­cies on pre­ven­tion, child safe­ty and fam­i­ly involvement.”

The his­to­ry of TDM

TDM was devel­oped as part of Casey’s Fam­i­ly to Fam­i­ly Ini­tia­tive and has built a promis­ing evi­dence base for its effi­ca­cy. It is being imple­ment­ed through­out Mis­souri, which is par­tic­i­pat­ing in a ran­dom­ized con­trol tri­al on the effec­tive­ness of TDM

Since Jan­u­ary 2020, the Nation­al Coun­cil on Crime and Del­i­quen­cy has man­aged TDM, and is work­ing to expand the practice’s reach, impact and evi­dence base.

Addi­tion­al TDM resource

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