Structured Decision Making (SDM)

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Scientific Rating:
Promising Research Evidence
See scale of 1-5
Child Welfare System Relevance Level:
See descriptions of 3 levels

About This Program

The information in this program outline is provided by the program representative and edited by the CEBC staff. Structured Decision Making (SDM) has been rated by the CEBC in the area of: Reducing Racial Disparity and Disproportionality in Child Welfare: Programs.

Target Population: Families referred to and assessed by child protective service (CPS) agencies

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 17

Brief Description

SDM is a comprehensive case management system for Child Protective Services (CPS). CPS workers employ objective assessment procedures at major case decision points from intake to reunification to improve child welfare decision-making. SDM targets agency services to children and families at high risk of maltreatment and helps ensure that service plans reflect the strengths and needs of families. When effectively implemented, it increases the consistency and validity of case decisions, reduces subsequent child maltreatment, and expedites permanency. The assessments from the model also provide data that help agency managers monitor, plan, and evaluate service delivery operations.

Program Goals:

The primary goals of Structured Decision Making (SDM) are:

  • Reduce subsequent maltreatment
  • Reduce time to permanency

Contact Information

Philip Decter
Agency/Affiliation: Children's Research Center
Phone: (800) 306-6223
Fax: (608) 831-6446

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: October 2015

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: October 2017

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: June 2008