Phil Decter

Phil Decter

Director of Child Welfare

Phil Decter, MSW, is a social worker and family therapist who has worked with children and families in inpatient, outpatient, home-based, foster care, and emergency room settings for 20 years. He has written and taught extensively on children and families experiencing some kind of crisis and their intersection with institutional and informal helping communities during these times. At Evident Change Phil works with child welfare organizations nationally on the implementation of strength and safety-organized practice skills and their integration with the Structured Decision Making® system.

Pronouns: he, him


Recent publications from Philip Decter:

Phil Decter

The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) has created a valuable opportunity for states, tribes, and local governments to receive federal reimbursement for programs and services that keep children out of foster care. However, the act relies on child welfare jurisdictions to define eligibility criteria for these funds. Evident Change can

Sierra Fischer and Phil Decter

Child protection agencies invest a significant amount of time and resources in deciding which programs, services, and tools to adopt in order to meet the needs of their clients. However, even the best programs won’t help agencies reach their goals of promoting children’s safety, permanency, and well-being if they are not implemented as intended and


Phil Decter, Interim Director of Child Welfare

Nearly everywhere staff from the NCCD Children’s Research Center (CRC) go to work on child welfare system improvement, they hear the same question: “Who is doing child welfare work really well?” Workers and supervisors who want to know what good child welfare practice looks like ask this question. Researchers, data analysts, and those interested in

Phil Decter, Interim Director of Child Welfare

Eight years ago, I left my home in Boston on a plane bound for San Diego, California. I had worked as a social worker with children, youth, and families in a variety of settings for almost 20 years. I trained and coached social workers for more than 10 of those years. I did many other types of work in this field as well, but what I was heading

Phil Decter, Associate Director

A father of twin 3-year-old girls sits tearfully in front of me. “I shook her,” he says. “I know I shouldn’t have. I know it wasn’t right. And I love her so much! She just wasn’t listening, though. She just wouldn’t do what I said. How do I get her to listen? She wasn’t getting into her chair! I had my other daughter in the bath—I had to keep an eye on her too! What was I supposed to do? I can’t do this. Nobody can.”

Phil Decter, Associate Director, NCCD and Heather Meitner, Senior Program Specialist, NCCD

What is integrated practice?

Philip Decter, Associate Director, NCCD

The 7-year-old boy would not stop moving. He leaped from couch to chair, then somersaulted across the rug and back again like a circus performer—laughing while showing off his skills. I smiled, aware of how much I enjoyed working with children but also clear that my task was going to be challenging! I was a social worker with an organization in Massachusetts that provided intensive services to families for whom there were concerns of abuse and neglect.