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Out-of-Home Placement Decision-Making and Outcomes in Child Welfare: A Longitudinal Study

  • Ka Ho Brian ChorEmail author
  • Gary M. McClelland
  • Dana A. Weiner
  • Neil Jordan
  • John S. Lyons
Original Article

Abstract

After children enter the child welfare system, subsequent out-of-home placement decisions and their impact on children’s well-being are complex and under-researched. This study examined two placement decision-making models: a multidisciplinary team approach, and a decision support algorithm using a standardized assessment. Based on 3,911 placement records in the Illinois child welfare system over 4 years, concordant (agreement) and discordant (disagreement) decisions between the two models were compared. Concordant decisions consistently predicted improvement in children’s well-being regardless of placement type. Discordant decisions showed greater variability. In general, placing children in settings less restrictive than the algorithm suggested (“under-placing”) was associated with less severe baseline functioning but also less improvement over time than placing children according to the algorithm. “Over-placing” children in settings more restrictive than the algorithm recommended was associated with more severe baseline functioning but fewer significant results in rate of improvement than predicted by concordant decisions. The importance of placement decision-making on policy, restrictiveness of placement, and delivery of treatments and services in child welfare are discussed.

Keywords

Child welfare Out-of-home placements Team decision-making Decision support algorithm Outcomes 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This study was funded by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS). The authors would like to give special thanks to the Child and Youth Investment Teams (CAYIT), especially Teddy Savas and Lee Annes, for their invaluable insight and input.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ka Ho Brian Chor
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gary M. McClelland
    • 2
  • Dana A. Weiner
    • 2
  • Neil Jordan
    • 2
  • John S. Lyons
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Center for Mental Health Implementation and Dissemination Science in States for Children, Adolescents, and Families (IDEAS Center), New York University Child Study CenterNew York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesNorthwestern University Feinberg School of MedicineChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Child and Youth Mental Health Research, School of PsychologyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

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