• April 2004
  • Vol. 5, No. 3

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Child Welfare Risk Assessment

Estimating the likelihood of future child maltreatment is an integral part of case planning and management, yet current policies and practices in risk assessment may be inadequate or flawed. This topic is the subject of a recent white paper published by the Center for Child Welfare Policy of the North American Resource Center for Child Welfare.

Six issue areas are identified and discussed:

  • Lack of agreement regarding the purpose and scope of risk assessment
  • Inconsistency among concepts, terminology, and measures in risk assessment
  • Methodological problems in risk assessment models and their validation
  • Barriers to large-scale implementation of formal risk assessment
  • Inappropriate use of risk assessment, such as for activities other than estimating recurrence of child maltreatment in a family
  • Insufficient consideration of ethical and legal issues involved in risk assessment

Recommendations that emerge from this discussion focus on large-scale system changes needed throughout the child protective services field, such as standardizing assessment terminology, developing valid instruments, and distinguishing risk assessment from family assessment and safety assessment.

An abbreviated version of Issues in Risk Assessment in Child Protective Services will appear in the Advisor, a publication of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, while an expanded version is planned for a monograph series by the Child Welfare League of America.

The full text of the paper can be downloaded from the NARCCW website at www.ihs-trainet.com/CCWP/RA%20for%20PDF.pdf (322 KB).

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