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May 2005Vol. 6, No. 4Special Issue: Decision-Making in Child Welfare

Child welfare decisions run the gamut from clinical decisions about client assessment, goals, and services to decisions about collecting and evaluating program data. A special issue of Children and Youth Services Review focuses on the decision-making process in child welfare and, specifically, the errors that can occur.

The issue includes six articles:

  • "Investigating Child Maltreatment in Out-of-Home Care: Barriers to Effective Decision-Making" (D. DePanfilis and H. Girvin) reports on archival case reviews of 129 investigations into maltreatment in out-of-home care.
  • "Improving Practice: Child Protection as a Systems Problem" (E. Munro) argues for the application of systems design to child welfare.
  • "Examining Decision Errors in Child Protection: A New Application of Root Cause Analysis" (T. L. Rzepnicki and P. R. Johnson) describes the use of root cause analysis to investigate decision-making errors in a child fatality case.
  • "The Next Step: Integrating Actuarial Risk Assessment and Clinical Judgment into an Evidence-Based Practice Framework in CPS Case Management" (A. Shlonsky and D. Wagner) describes the use of (1) assessment of risk and (2) contextual assessment of child and family functioning as decision aids for evidence-based practice in child welfare.
  • "Assessing Parenting Capacity in a Child Welfare Context" (K. S. Budd) describes a clinical practice model for mental health evaluations of parents in cases of physical abuse, neglect, or dependency.
  • "Lessons From a Systematic Review of Effects of Multisystemic Therapy" (J. H. Littell) considers methods for synthesizing results of multiple studies of the effects of social interventions.

These papers were originally presented at the 3rd International Symposium of the School of Social Welfare, University of California at Berkeley, in December 2003. They were published in the April 2005 issue of Children and Youth Services Review 27(4) and are available for purchase online at