Session: Child Welfare Decision Making Research: Advances in Cross National Theory and Methods Development (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

268 Child Welfare Decision Making Research: Advances in Cross National Theory and Methods Development

Sunday, January 20, 2019: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Golden Gate 4, Lobby Level (Hilton San Francisco)
Cluster: Child Welfare (CW)
Symposium Organizer:
John Fluke, PhD, Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse & Neglect
Rami Benbenishty, PhD, University of Southern California
Professional judgments and decisions in child welfare cases are difficult and complex, often based on ambiguous, partial, and contradictory information. These decisions have potentially fateful consequences not only for the child, but for the entire family. Yet, decision making in Child Welfare is characterized by low reliability and errors. Examples abound of apparent errors where Child Welfare systems did not act when they should have, or acted when they should not have. Aside from highly visible errors, other more subtle decision errors may occur that result in overall outcomes that are less than desirable for children and families. This set of concerns is not limited to any one jurisdiction, and is observed as a concern in child welfare systems throughout the world. The state of knowledge and progress in child welfare decision-making research has begun to proliferate and benefit from research being conducted in a variety of places.

This symposium will present results from four studies that address questions drawn from Decision Making theoretical frameworks and which also drive the selected methods. Two of the studies originate from the US, one from the Netherlands, and the fourth from Switzerland. These four new studies consider the relative contributions of context; case-, worker-, and agency-level factors and their influences on the range of decisions along the child welfare continuum. A moderator/facilitator will briefly introduce the topic including key themes and questions to contemplate throughout the presentations. Presenter 1 will share results from a southeastern state of a linked analysis of worker and organizational characteristics survey data with case level administrative data, where the survey was administered to a population of Child Protective Services caseworkers and linked to the caseworkers' placement and/or permanency decisions. Presenter 2 will present results from a Bayesian predictive model study conducted in a residential care population in Tennessee examining case level assessment characteristics and the likelihood that a child will achieve permanency. Presenter 3 will describe a vignette study of the use by staff in Dutch child welfare agencies of decision heuristics in reaching the decision regarding where to place a child. Presenter 4 will present findings from a multifactorial and multilevel vignette study of risk assessment and recommendations for placement among professionals doing child protection assessment in Switzerland. The results from the four studies will be summarized and synthesized by a discussant and presented to the symposium participants for further exploration.

The methods represented by the four studies constitute a picture of the predominant methodological approaches used; vignette studies and studies of actual decisions. In addition they take into account the multi-level nature of the context in which the decisions take place. Finally, all are efforts to address improvements in the theoretical understanding of decision making in child welfare settings and across the child welfare continuum, and the practical applications of that knowledge.

* noted as presenting author
Associations between Worker Characteristics and Child Welfare Case Trajectories: What Matters and When Does It Matter?
Dana Hollinshead, PhD, Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse & Neglect; Dustin Currie, MPH, University of Colorado School of Medicine; John Fluke, PhD, Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse & Neglect
Exploration in Predictive Analyses and Potential Implications
Kelly Stepura, PhD, KaleidaCare; Donald Baumann, PhD, St. Edwards University
Decision-Making and Use of Heuristics By Practitioners Matching Children with Foster Families
Monica Lopez, PhD, University of Groningen; Kirti Zeijlmans, MA, University of Groningen
The Link between Assessment and Decision in Child Protection
Joel Gautschi, MSW, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland.
See more of: Symposia