How Can Motivational Interviewing Be Used in Child Protection?

Parents can be reluctant to engage with child protection agencies since they realize these agencies are part of a system that can remove their children from their homes; however, it is crucial for agencies to develop meaningful engagement with these families, as engaging caregivers successfully in child welfare services has been associated with fewer placements in out-of-home care and less risk of repeat abuse. This research-to-practice brief cites motivational interviewing (MI) as a promising approach used by child protection practitioners to facilitate meaningful family engagement. Essential elements of MI are identified, including an authentic partnership between case manager and client based on nonjudgmental acceptance of the client, compassion for the client, and recognition of the client’s desire for change. The brief lists communication strategies such as asking open-ended questions that practitioners use in MI, and it concludes with a discussion of how the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency has used the MI approach.

Record Type: 
Research-To-Practice Brief
Publication Date: 
December, 2020
December 2020
Partner Resources
District of Columbia
  • Supportive Services
    • Child Welfare
  • Special Populations