Monday, April 28, 2014

How DCFS Makes Removal Decisions

Last week I attended a Court Improvement Program meeting whereat the DCFS gave an update on the implementation of the Structured Decision Making (SDM) Program.  There are 5 assessments that the SDM Programs covers:

  • Intake Assessment.  This assessment has not yet been implemented because the referral system is being overhauled to become web-based.
  • Safety Assessment.  This assessment is made at the time a case worker first encounters a family.  It is essentially a decision regarding whether a child can remain at home or needs to be removed.  You can see above a diagram of the three categories families will fall into.  For those who are safe, no services are needed, for those who are conditionally safe in home services are appropriate, for those who are unsafe foster care services are necessary.
  • Risk Assessment.  This is an assessment to determine whether services can continue.  The chart below shows how the safety and risk assessments work together.  
  • Risk Reassessment.  This assessment is a continuation of the Risk Assessment and made sometime after the initial risk assessment.
  • Reunification Assessment.  This assessment has not yet be implemented.

The Safety Assessment, Risk Assessment and Risk Reassessment have all been implemented statewide as of December 2012.  DCFS is continuing to work on fidelity to the model with their case workers.  The SDM Program has been successfully implemented in other jurisdictions and has resulted in lower removal rates and allowed states to focus their services on the families who really need them.  The goal is to have a removal rate in 4% of cases.  As of January 2014, Utah had a removal rate of 4.12%.

The SDM Program is good for parents and their attorneys because it provides the underlying reasoning of DCFS caseworkers decisions.  If you are not asking for the SDM assessments mentioned above in your cases we hope you will continue to push for them.

If you are interested in a CLE training on how the safety and risk assessments work, you can sign up for a 3 hour online training below.  It's $35.00 for 3 hours of CLE.  Use the discount code: annualconf for $10 off.

1 comment:

  1. What the hell? You have a goal to remove children?? What is wrong with this picture. Is that why you did a complete about face last week in court and pulled a fast one trying to remove children from their well cared for and well loved home and Mom? You people are as bad as any government agency who butts into peoples lives and won't give them a chance to even explain. You want the kids so you will have federal funds for your budget. You could care less about the kids or the families that you are irrevocably destroying. Don't tell me that the kids will be fine, maybe in a few cases, but not the one that you are currently trying to destroy. Open your eyes, look at the situation, and stop wasting previous time where your intervention is not welcome, necessary or good for anyone in this home!!