Risk Assessment Validation: A Prospective Study

In 2013, Evident Change conducted a validation study of the Structured Decision Making® risk assessment used by the California Department of Social Services Children and Family Services Division of Child Welfare Services. As of this study, 54 of California’s 58 counties were using the risk assessment, last validated in 2007, to estimate the probability of future child protection system involvement among families investigated by child welfare agency staff. These staff use the results of the risk assessment to help inform critical case service decisions. This 2013 California risk assessment validation study examines the current risk assessment’s ability to classify families based on their chances of future child welfare system involvement and suggests a proposed version of the risk assessment with revisions that could improve its classification ability, particularly for certain race/ethnicity subgroups.