Decisions to Protect Children: A Decision Making Ecology

  • John D. Fluke
  • Donald J. Baumann
  • Len I. Dalgleish
  • Homer D. Kern
Part of the Child Maltreatment book series (MALT, volume 2)


Decisions in child protection and child welfare, for example removal decisions, are made under uncertainty. This chapter provides an overview of decision making theory and research focused on improving decision making in child welfare, and the limitations of our current approaches. The framework developed in the chapter, The Decision Making Ecology (DME) and General Assessment and Decision Making (GADM) model considers child welfare decisions to be a function of case (e.g., type and severity of maltreatment, risk, poverty), decision maker (e.g., experience, values), organizational (e.g., policy, workload, resources), and external characteristics (e.g., critical events, funding). Research has shown that although workers attend to case information similarly to arrive at an assessment, the factors determining their willingness to take action vary; the General Assessment and Decision Making (GADM). Workers, supervisors, administrators, and judges reach individual decision thresholds where assessment information resulting in action in combination with competing views of consequences, including disparities. The chapter concludes with applications of the framework and prospects for improving decision making.


Child Welfare Psychological Process Prospect Theory Child Protection Decision Threshold 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • John D. Fluke
    • 1
  • Donald J. Baumann
    • 2
  • Len I. Dalgleish
    • 3
  • Homer D. Kern
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Pediatrics, Kempe Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse and NeglectUniversity of Colorado School of Medicine, The Gary Pavilion at Children’s Hospital ColoradoAuroraUSA
  2. 2.Saint Edwards UniversityAustinUSA
  3. 3.University of SterlingScotlandUK
  4. 4.Independent Child Welfare ConsultantChina SpringsUSA

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