This article explores the factors that influenced team leader decision-making processes about pathways for duty/intake referrals in one TUSLA region in the Republic of Ireland. It provides an overview of theories relating to decision making focused on systems, risk, relationships and processes. An ecological framework is presented as the conceptual frame. The study was carried out in one region of the Republic of Ireland through a partnership research arrangement between Tusla and the local university social work programme. It involved a quantitative and qualitative research approach. The quantitative phase of the study comprised 15 participants. The qualitative phase of the study consisted of seven respondents. All respondents were duty/intake team leaders. The findings make an important contribution to existing understandings and theories relating to decision making in the Republic of Ireland and internationally. They illustrate that decision-making processes were influenced more by organisational factors than individual factors or macro factors. The discussion considers how this study can critically add to existing international literature relating to decision making at the point of first contact in child protection and welfare. In particular, it shows the value of taking an ecological approach to understanding decision making that can provide for a critical understanding of the complex factors, especially organisational (exo level), that impact on decision making at the front line. It also highlights why a diversity of aspects of decision-making influences are important to consider with a constant focus on the child and family at the centre, in line with current policy and practice perspectives.