Raelene Freitag

Raelene Freitag

Manager of International and Special Projects

Raelene Freitag, PhD, MSW, joined Evident Change in 1997 as a senior research associate and was promoted to senior researcher in 1999. She served as the director of the former NCCD's Children's Research Center from 2005 until 2016, when she turned her focus exclusively to international and special projects. Raelene has many years of experience as a child protective services worker, supervisor, and child interview specialist. She has also worked in law enforcement and mental health. Raelene has a PhD in urban studies from the University of Wisconsin with an emphasis in social service systems.

Raelene has managed numerous projects during her tenure at Evident Change, including Structured Decision Making® (SDM) systems in the United States, Canada, Singapore, Taiwan, and Australia. She works to integrate the best research on SDM assessment systems with the best of solution-focused and family engagement work. Implementation science and research on how we think is further informing Raelene’s work that integrates SDM systems into a broader practice approach.

Raelene seeks opportunities for international collaboration and research partnerships. Recent conversations with child welfare practitioners and academics around the world make clear that while there are important differences, child protection and other social service systems across the world face many of the same challenges. In partnerships, we all have much to gain.

Raelene is a member of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) and National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and previously served on state chapter boards of each.

Pronouns: she, her

Recent publications from Raelene Freitag:

Raelene Freitag, PhD, Director of Social Service Practice
Dr. Raelene Freitag, Director of Children's Research Center (CRC) & International Projects

Every relationship between a child protection worker and a family has it: day one. On day one, the worker was assigned to respond to a report. That report contained bits of information about a family. Sometimes these bits tell of horrific harm, but more often, they tell of worries that children are in harm’s way in their homes. Sometimes, the worker has information about the family from prior contact with child protection. More often, this is the first time the child protection agency and the family have met.

Dr. Raelene Freitag, Director of Children's Research Center (CRC) & International Projects

Reporting a family to child protective services (CPS) is not the first step in child protection; rather, the first step is deciding whether or not to report them at all. Every professional tasked with reporting faces this difficult decision—an important one that will influence the life of the family in some way. In each of the four situations below, a professional must make a decision: Should this family be reported to CPS? If a report is not made, will the child be in danger? If a report is made, will a struggling family get the help they need?

National Council on Crime and Delinquency

Raelene Freitag, Director of the NCCD Children's Research Center and International Projects, chose “social justice” as the NCCD value that guides her work. Learn why in this video blog.

Raelene Freitag, Director of CRC and International Projects, NCCD

Insoo Kim Berg used a “miracle question” to help families develop hope for their futures, and to begin to see possible concrete steps to move them closer to their dreams. If we asked a “miracle question” about the child protection system, it would be something like this: “Imagine you wake up tomorrow and find that a miracle happened over night—the child protective services system is now the best possible system, and everything is working better than we ever could have imagined.

Kristen Johnson, PhD
Raelene Freitag
Chris Baird

The Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) recently released a brief report on whether or not implementation of a risk assessment reduced racial disproportionality. This response to the report briefly reviews the findings, critiques the relevance of the research hypotheses, and describes limitations of the research design that undermine the credibility of the conclusions drawn from the study. It also describes a more comprehensive approach to reducing racial disparity and evaluating the success of these efforts.

Raelene Freitag
Theresa Healy, MS

From August 1 through September 30, 2008, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) field-tested three assessments for use in providing child protective services (CPS) to families. The assessments consist of the assessment of danger and safety,  a risk assessment, and a risk reassessment. The three assessments were developed by DCF in collaboration with the Children’s Research Center (CRC) in 2007. The purpose of the field test was to examine how well the assessments could be conducted under actual field conditions and if they could be effectively completed in conjunction with the family.  The following report summarizes information from the Massachusetts field test of the three CPS assessments.

Raelene Freitag, Director of CRC and International Projects, NCCD

Two things have been quite clear to me throughout my time working on the Structured Decision Making® (SDM) system: 1. The SDM® system is really important; AND 2. It is hard to get people excited about it.