Team Decision Making (TDM) Toolkit



An Implementation Toolkit details the process of putting a new practice, program, or intervention into action in a county or organization. It is a set of practical tools, which can be used together or separately, to help implementers systematically execute and evaluate the new practice, program, or intervention. Toolkits can be tailored to meet stakeholder needs based on the parameters of their projects. 



Each link in the menu box contains an overview and a description of that section. You’ll find background information; an explanation about why the new practice, program, or intervention is needed; information about the target population; important definitions and descriptions; Assessment Tools; Planning Tools to help with execution; suggestions for an approach to evaluation; and tangible resources. Specific examples are included in each toolkit and its components. Whenever possible, suggestions are provided for implementation from start to finish.   



The most critical placement decisions that child welfare agencies make are sometimes executed by its newest and least experienced staff. Many times the social worker is overworked, undertrained, and relatively isolated. Therefore, it is very important that social work staff and other Team Decision Making (TDM) participants make the best decisions on behalf of children. The same social worker is often considering the future of many other families with similar placement decisions. The worker completes a risk assessment tool, consults with their supervisor, and makes a decision about whether to remove a child based on the information gathered. These decisions are vitally important and should not be considered lightly. TDM is a method for bringing interested and vested parties together to make better decisions, which ultimately should impact placement and permanency in child welfare.



Team Decision Making is beneficial as a new or different way of practice that involves action steps that might potentially impact better outcomes for children and families. Staff acquire knowledge and skills to do their jobs that hopefully have a more profound effect on child welfare outcomes. The leadership in counties or organizations support the practice by providing the tools necessary for implementation. The practice can be evaluated to discover if the new/different way of practice, in fact, improved outcomes for children and families.        



People who use this site may be searching for something specific or they may be looking to start a program from scratch. Users who don’t know where to start can click on the 5 stages of implementation to get suggestions for implementing a practice, program, or intervention from start to finish. Users can also select specific tools located in the following categories:

  • Definitional Tools - Definitional Tools describe the problem that the county or organization is trying to solve. They explain the logic and theory used in making a decision about a practice, program, or intervention, which they define in ways that are concise, are easily understandable, and can be executed using the tools in the toolkit. The Definitional Tools also articulate the benefits for their target population. 
  • Engagement and Communication Tools - Engagement and Communication Tools provide leaders with materials for communicating to stakeholders about the practice, program, or intervention. They might include informational statistics about the issue to be addressed, the vision for implementation, and promotional or advertising materials. Engagement and Communication Tools are used to send a message to staff and others about the county's or organization's future direction related to the new practice, program, or intervention. The tools can be downloaded to lead focused discussions for a variety of audiences. 
  • Assessment Tools - Assessment Tools guide information-gathering from quantitative and qualitative sources. They assist in determining whether your county or organization is ready for the new practice, program, or intervention. The Assessment Tools contained in specific toolkits may differ depending on the practice. They can be tailored to meet county or organizational assessment needs. 
  • Planning Tools - Planning Tools help implementers transform their county or organizational goals into achievable, sequential action steps that enable measurement of progress toward full implementation.
  • Training Tools - Training is a link between policy and practice. Training Tools are helpful in teaching policies and procedures, imparting values and principles, modeling awareness, and conveying steps for implementation. They can be used to transfer knowledge and skills from the classroom to the field.
  • Coaching/Development - Tools in this section can be used by a mentor, supervisor, or coach to provide feedback to staff. Staff can also use them in self-reflection.
  • Evaluation Tools - Evaluation Tools provide a framework for consideration, provide suggestions on how to extract or export data, and acquaint the county or organization with the use of other reports to obtain results for their implementation efforts. The goal in providing these tools is to increase the fidelity of evaluation efforts.
  • Funding and Fiscal Tools - In times of scarcity, locating funds for new projects may be difficult because organizations are already taxed, and managers must operate within stricter budget restraints. This is particularly true for the child welfare system; the same/similar level of productivity is expected using fewer resources. Potential funding sources may be available for your practice, program, or intervention; sometimes people have been able to secure funding through creative means.