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2010 Conference on Differential Response in Child Welfare. Safety and Risk Management – Three Key Case Decisions. Barry Salovitz Senior Director, Strategic Consulting Casey Family Programs. Workshop Objectives.

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2010 Conference on Differential Response in Child Welfare

Safety and Risk Management – Three Key Case Decisions

Barry Salovitz

Senior Director, Strategic Consulting

Casey Family Programs


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Workshop Objectives

  • Expand collective knowledge and understanding of safety and risk concepts and practices

  • Explore application of the concepts and practices to 3 case decisions using case vignettes to simulate decision making

  • Identify and examine the nature of common risk and safety fidelity errors


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3 Case Decisions

  • Child Safety

  • Case Opening – Services Provision

  • Reunification


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Decision #1

  • No Safety Plan

  • In Home Safety Plan

  • Out of Home Safety Plan


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Decision #2

  • Services Not Needed

  • Services Needed – Offered

  • Services Needed – Court Ordered


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Decision #3

  • Reunification Recommended

  • Reunification Not Recommended


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What is a “Framework”?

  • Basic conceptual structure

  • Ties together sets of mutually congruent & supportive beliefs, values, principles & strategies

  • Addresses a common purpose


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Flying Without a Framework

  • Idiosyncratic beliefs, practice, decision-making

  • Conscious and unconscious bias

  • Errors in decision-making

  • Inconsistencies

  • Haphazard documentation

  • Consultation & supervision suffers

  • Lack of standards for QA/QI


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The Framework Test

  • What decisions need to be made?

  • The causes or factors are associated w/ area of interest/concern

  • What information needs to be assessed?

  • How should this information be interpreted?

  • What practice model is best suited?

  • What interventions are appropriate?

  • What constitutes progress and lack of progress?

  • How much progress is expected before recommending a child return home, or case closure, or other permanency option?

  • Practice model that unites everything in a way that can be applied in the field


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Sample Framework Concepts

  • All safety threats involve risk; not all risks involve safety threats

  • Protective capacities are strengths; not all strengths function as protective capacities

  • Safety plans and service plans – complementary, but different functions

  • CA/N cases are open for active safety threats; risk cases are sometimes open; child well-being cases alone are often not open

  • CA/N cases are closed when safety threats have been resolved or protective capacities are sufficient to protect; high risk has been reduced


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Why Differentiate Safety and Risk?What About Well-Being?What About Permanency?


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“The sacred requirement…

…to assess a child’s safety in the home & respond appropriately; should not be simply a required agency event, or only a form completion compliance task. You must make it a way of thinking”.


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Safety Threats

Protective Capacities

Safety Decision

Child Vulnerability

A Framework for Safety Decision-Making

Source: Morton, T. & Salovitz, B. (2006) “Evolving a Theoretical Model of Child Safety in Maltreating Families”

Child Abuse & Neglect, Vol. 30, Issue 12, December 2006, pp. 1317-1327.


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Safe

  • caregiver provides protective capacities sufficient to protect his/her child from serious harm


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Unsafe

  • caregiver does not provide protective capacities sufficient to protect his/her child from immediate or imminent serious harm


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Safety Questions

  • safety threats present (serious harm)?

  • adult protective capacities and child vulnerability mitigate or aggravate?

  • child requires immediate protection?


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Serious Harm vs. Safety Threats

  • Cause or Association?

  • Consequence or Manifestation?


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Serious Harm

  • Actual or threatened consequence of an active safety threat

    • Is life-threatening or risk thereof;

    • Substantively retards the child’s mental or physical health or development or risk thereof;

    • Produces substantial physical or mental suffering, physical disfigurement or disability, whether permanent or temporary, or risk thereof; or

    • Involves sexual victimization.


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Safety Threats

  • Underlying conditions and contributing factors

  • Behaviors, motives, perceptions, beliefs, conditions

  • May exist within a caregiver, the family as a whole and/or the family’s ecology


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Safety Threats Involve:

Underlying Conditions

needs of family members, perceptions, beliefs, values, feelings, cultural practices and/or previous life experiences that influence the maltreatment dynamic within a family system and can increase the likelihood of child maltreatment or its severity

AND

Contributing Factors

social problems or conditions (family or community), that can increase the likelihood of child maltreatment or its severity


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A Safety Threat May Be a…..

  • Situation (e.g. unsafe home, criminal activity)

  • Behavior (e.g. impulsive actions, assaults)

  • Emotion (e.g. immobilizing depression)

  • Motive (e.g. intention to hurt the child)

  • Perception (e.g. viewing child as a devil)

  • Capacity (e.g. physical disability)


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Protective Capacities

  • Capabilities, motives, perceptions, beliefs or emotions that can avert the impact of threats of serious harm

  • May exist within a caregiver, the family system & its ecology

  • May have racial, ethnic, religious or cultural influences


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Vulnerability

  • degree to which a child can avoid, negate or modify the impact of safety threats

  • missing or insufficient protective capacities


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Safety Decision Examples

  • Safe

  • In-Home Safety Plan

    C. Out-of-Home Safety Plan

    D. Legally Authorized Out-of-Home Safety Plan


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Safety Plan

intervention strategy to control a safety threat or supplement insufficient protective capacities to protect a child from serious harm


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Safety Planning Guidelines

  • specific and concrete control strategy

  • must be implemented promptly

  • whenever possible, parent should have a role in its development and implementation

  • should employ least restrictive strategies possible while assuring the child’s safety


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Safety Planning Guidelines

  • Can be developed and implemented by incorporating identified protective capacities

  • must assess the caregivers willingness and capability to agree and abide by the terms of the safety plan

  • active participants must be capable of monitoring/enforcing its terms


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Safety Plan Guidelines

  • must be continuously re-evaluated and modified, whenever necessary

  • cases should not be terminated, outside a court order, when an agency managed safety plan is active


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Supplementation of Protective Capacities

The addition of additional protective capacities to the family system without removal of the child


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Guidelines for Discontinuing a Safety Plan

  • When a threat of serious harm no longer exists

    or

  • control of the threat within the family is probable; can be maintained without safety focused intervention or active safety plan monitoring


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Risk

  • likelihood of any harm to a child in the future due to abuse or neglect


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Risk Factors

  • highlight the family system

  • may include demographics, needs, strengths, safety threats, functioning levels

  • associated with understanding the nature of the family’s involvement with the CW system (maltreatment, A/N history, underlying conditions & contributing factors)

  • likelihood of future A/N


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Safety and Risk Fundamentals

Safety is a subset of risk. All safety concerns are risk issues. Not all risk concerns are safety issues.


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Service Plan

Intervention strategy designed to:

  • resolve safety threats

  • reduce risk

  • promote child well-being

  • attain permanency



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Positive changes in parental behavior and attitudes might occur absent completion of treatment programs.


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Critical Issues for Reunification/Case Closure occur absent completion of treatment programs.

  • Underlying conditions or contributing factors related to safety threats have been resolved/diminished

  • Protective capacities have increased

  • Child vulnerabilities have been reduced

  • Feasible plan for reunification support exists


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Predictors of Reunification occur absent completion of treatment programs.

  • Visitation record

  • Completion of substance abuse treatment programs

  • Parent’s income; higher income leads to quicker reunification

  • Stable housing

  • Age of child; babies reunify at lower rates

  • Behavior problems of child; behaviorally-troubled children reunify at half the rate of children with few behavioral problems


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“Children should be returned home when they are considered to be safe for the foreseeable future, not simply for the next 24-48 hours.”

A present danger orientation is not sufficient to answer the question.


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ANY QUESTIONS? to be safe for the foreseeable future, not simply for the next 24-48 hours.”


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Case #1: Cannon Family to be safe for the foreseeable future, not simply for the next 24-48 hours.”

  • Is the child safe from immediate and serious harm?

  • Is a safety plan needed?

  • If yes, what plan is most appropriate?

  • What else, if anything, would you want to know to inform your decision?


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Case #2: Adams Family to be safe for the foreseeable future, not simply for the next 24-48 hours.”

  • Should this case be opened for services and why?

  • Voluntary or Court Ordered?

  • What else, if anything, would you want to know to inform your decision?


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Sample Family Case to be safe for the foreseeable future, not simply for the next 24-48 hours.”

  • Is this family ready for reunification and why?

  • If yes, what reunification support plan would you recommend, if any?

  • If no, what additional progress needs to occur?

  • What else, if anything, would you want to know to inform your decision?