NCCD Now: Families and Child Welfare Workers

Our Staff


NCCD Now: Families and Child Welfare Workers

Erin Hanusa

Being reported to child welfare is among the most difficult and frightening things a family can experience. So much is at stake for children and caregivers in their interactions with child welfare social workers, who are entrusted with a tremendous amount of responsibility and power. 

For child welfare workers, too, interactions with families bring high stakes. The need to make good decisions about children’s safety and well-being—whether that means removing a child, leaving a child in the home, or bringing a child back into the home after foster care—is pressing.

Child welfare workers have a number of tools at their disposal to help them make good decisions about children and families. Respectful, collaborative relationship building is key for families and workers to create good outcomes in a bad situation. Workers must listen; families must trust; everyone must work together to keep children safe. The NCCD Children’s Research Center (CRC) believes in the importance of family engagement, which is why training on this issue is part of what we do in our work with child welfare jurisdictions. 

CRC also supports child welfare workers and families with evidence-based decision-support assessments as part of the Structured Decision Making® (SDM) system. Our assessments are designed to help workers focus their work with families on what really impacts outcomes. They are also designed to create greater consistency and equity in workers’ decisions, so that families in the child welfare system experience equitable treatment.

This month on NCCD’s blog, in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month, our bloggers will take you through the decision points of a child welfare case, from handling the initial phone call to closing a case, from the point of view of a child welfare worker. Along the way we will emphasize how workers use SDM® assessments in the context of their work with families, and describe the challenges and opportunities that each interaction with a family presents. We hope you enjoy and learn from it.

Blog posts will be linked here as they go live:

Making Decisions in Child Protection by Dr. Raelene Freitag, Director of CRC & International Projects

Should This Family Be in the Child Welfare System? by Mollie Warren, Program Associate

Day One in Child Welfare by Dr. Raelene Freitag, Director of CRC & International Projects

Working With Parents During a Child Welfare Case by Peggy Cordero, Senior Program Specialist

How Do We Decide When to Open a Child Welfare Case? by Philip Decter, Associate Director, NCCD Children's Research Center

Moving Beyond “Cultural Competency” in Child Welfare  by Amy Cipolla-Stickles, Senior Program Specialist

Making Child Welfare Case Plans With Families by Heather Meitner, Senior Program Specialist

Is it Time? The Decision to Return a Child Home by Julie Davis, Senior Program Specialist

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Close the Case? by Rod Caskey, Senior Program Specialist

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