Team Decision Making (TDM) is a collaborative practice created by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (Casey) that child welfare agencies use to include parents and other family members in all decisions involving child removal, change of placement, reunification, or other permanency plans. TDM was a core strategy of Casey’s Family to Family Initiative in the early 1990s. The key component of TDM is a meeting to inform and make safety-based decisions each time a safety assessment suggests that a child may need to leave their home, regardless of court involvement. The goal is for such meetings to be held prior to any removal or placement change. The meeting is facilitated by an objective facilitator; attendees include child welfare staff, children, parents, family members, and community supports.

Child Trends recently completed a five-year randomized controlled trial of TDM in two counties in Missouri. Overall, the study found TDM to be a practice in which, on average:

  1. Children experienced better child welfare outcomes.
  2. Workers reported being better informed about the child and family and expressed appreciation for the practice.
  3. Parents, family members, and community supports were satisfied with the experience.

The study also provided necessary evidence for agency administrators and others seeking to implement the model that TDM is a useful and helpful practice that benefits the child welfare field.

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