Why You Can Rely on the SDM® System

Reliability is one of the key characteristics of friendship—and the Structured Decision Making® (SDM) system. While trustworthiness among friends is priceless, reliability (i.e., consistency) is essential when making crucial decisions about child safety and permanency.

It is important that if given the same information, all workers, despite the personal biases they may have, consistently evaluate families in an objective way. This helps to ensure that families need not worry about how a particular worker may influence the outcome of their case. When reliable assessments are used to guide decision making, the same decisions about how to proceed on a case should be reached, no matter which worker is assigned to the family.

SDM® assessment tools increase the reliability of worker decisions by structuring decision making at key points in the life of a child welfare case. The SDM system allows workers to objectively assess families and make decisions based on more than personal judgment alone.

All SDM assessments must go through inter-rater reliability testing, which helps determine the extent to which different raters agree in their assessment decisions. This testing determines how reliable the assessment tool truly is. Like a good friend, the SDM system can be trusted to offer support to workers—as they make important decisions in the life of a child welfare case.


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