Supervisory Approval Required, Coaching Recommended

Structured Decision Making® (SDM) assessments are decision-support tools designed to help caseworkers make important child welfare decisions. Many jurisdictions, by policy, require supervisors to review and approve all completed assessments. Too often, workers complete assessments and submit them to their supervisors for approval—only to find their completed assessments rejected or revised or the decision reversed. This opaque decision making can quickly breed distrust in worker-supervisor relationships as well as in the SDM® tools designed to support caseworker decision making.

To enhance the skills of their employees without adding much time or energy to the workweek, supervisors can use existing processes as opportunities for supervision and coaching. For example, supervisors can use the SDM assessment tools and the supervisor approval requirement as an occasion for conversation and support around accurate tool completion and application. In addition to keeping the SDM system front and center in the work of both supervisors and caseworkers, this can reinforce transparency in decision making—important to the families the agency serves and those working within the agency.    

Supervisors have an enormous impact on how workers use and understand SDM assessments. By intentionally using existing assessment requirements and processes to transfer insight and understanding, supervisors will build trust among workers and in the SDM decision-support system.


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