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Dec/Jan 2009Vol. 9, No. 10Structured Decision-Making in Case Management

Structured Decision Making® (SDM) is an evidence-based model designed to help agencies and caseworkers make accurate risk assessments about families and children. A new guide from the Children's Research Center (CRC) reviews the principles of the SDM model and provides updated information on its use in jurisdictions around the country.

The SDM model includes several components:

  • Tools for assessing families and structuring agency response at specific decision points in a case
  • The use of service levels to focus efforts on families with the greatest need
  • A workload measurement system
  • A management information system

The Structured Decision Making Model: An Evidenced-Based Approach to Human Services provides examples of these components in action. For instance, a CRC study of more than 10,000 California cases where SDM was used to designate cases as either "immediate response at intake" or "10-day response time" showed that child removal rates were four times higher for the immediate response group. Results suggest that the SDM response priority tools accurately identified cases that needed an immediate response. In Michigan, a study found that use of the SDM reunification assessment helped more children achieve permanency within 15 months when compared to traditional methods of making permanency decisions.

To find out more about SDM and download the new CRC guide, go to: (1,438 - KB)