An Equity-Focused, Collaborative Approach to Risk Assessment

October 11, 2022 | Evident Change

Several hands reach into a circle to touch, symbolizing teamwork

participatory risk validation examines how well a risk assessment is supporting decision making while centering attention on those who are most impacted, ultimately seeking action to improve practice. This type of validation study combines data analyses with the perspectives of a diverse group of stakeholders. The goal is to design an empirically supported risk assessment that aligns with the community’s equity and utility values.

In 2020, Evident Change and the New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) used this approach to conduct a validation of the Structured Decision Making® (SDM) risk assessment. The study examined how the current risk assessment is performing across three SDM® principles of utility, accuracy, and equity using a participatory approach.

A steering committee composed of agency leadership, agency supervisors, agency line staff, and staff from community partner agencies engaged in the process in partnership with DCYF and Evident Change. The steering committee was responsible for reviewing the validation analytics, vetting the analytics in relation to local practice, and ensuring that the resultant risk assessment was the most appropriate for use by DCYF staff with New Hampshire families.

Evident Change has published three documents related to the study. A research brief shares highlights of the participatory risk validation process and a few key data considerations, while the risk validation study report documents the entire research effort, study sample, research methods, and consensus-building process. An accompanying case study shares more information on the unique collaborative process of the study.