Assessing Risk Throughout the Life of a Child Welfare Case
Child welfare agencies are responsible for ensuring the safety of abused and neglected children. This requires the accurate and timely identification of children at high risk of imminent or future harm from maltreatment, and making case decisions that effectively reduce this risk. However, accurately identifying and responding to risk is inherently complicated. A variety of risk assessment models and tools have been developed to promote accuracy and relevance case assessments and decisions. However, inconsistencies in approaches and fundamental assumptions, and the idiosyncratic use of terminology have increased, rather than resolved, the prevalent confusion about risk assessment in child welfare practice. This chapter defines risk as a construct with validity throughout the life of a case and describes empirically supported strategies to identify and respond to risk at various stages of case involvement, thereby promoting both the immediate and long-term safety of maltreated children.
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