3-16-2023 CIP Cafe’ – SAFE VS. UNSAFE: Assessing Safety in Child Welfare

Thursday, March 16th   | 12:00pm-1:00pm


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The Child Welfare Assessment and Decision Making Model (CWADM) is a framework that the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) uses to assess safety and risk and the needs and strengths of children and families throughout the life of a child welfare case. CWADM ensures that DCFS and courts have the best possible information upon which to make decisions with and for families involved with DCFS. In 2022, the safety language in CWADM was incorporated into the Louisiana Children’s Code (Act 272).

Our presenters will unpack the variables that help determine whether a child is safe or unsafe: threats of danger to the child, the child’s vulnerability to the identified threats of danger, and the caretaker’s protective capacities. They will give practical examples of circumstances that help guide the type of safety plan with the family that is needed, if any. This CIP Café is part one of two; the CIP Café on April 20th will provide information about the ongoing assessment of safety in a Child In a Need of Care case with a focus on conditions for return and conditions for closure.


  • Lori Miller, RSW, CPS Manager, DCFS
  • Sherry Powell, Deputy General Counsel II, DCFS
  • Arianne Zaunbrecher, LCSW-BACS, Child Welfare Consultant-CWADM, DCFS


  • 12:00 – 12:30 pm   Safety assessment variables: threat of danger, vulnerability, protective capacity
  • 12:30 – 12:50 pm   Applying circumstances to the variables to determine whether a child is safe or unsafe and what type of safety plan is needed, if any
  • 12:50 – 1:00 pm     Questions and Discussion


  • Become fluent with the three variables involved in the Department of Children and Family Services’ safety assessment.
  • Learn the practical application of circumstances to the variables.
  • Understand when a safety plan can be utilized to keep the family intact.
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