Child Welfare Services is the system of intervention of child abuse and neglect in the United States. While these agencies operate at the state and county levels, they receive funding from the federal government. Additionally, non-profits nationwide work in the areas of child protection, foster care, and adoption.
Child welfare professionals use case management as a tool to create plans for each child and ensure they receive the services needed for optimal health. Since the 1990s, technology has been implemented in Child Welfare Services, with the goal of emphasizing measurable outcomes. These policy efforts focused on government accountability and led to the development of the Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information Systems. Now obsolete, the software was an option for Title IV-E agencies as a technological case management tool.
Today, innovative technologies built by private software companies have surpassed those of government legacy software. We’ll address seven benefits of modern SaaS (software as a service) programs to help you understand how cloud-based systems can streamline processes at your organization.
Modern technology such as mobile devices and tablets offer on-the-go problem-solving solutions. Cloud-based systems offer storage for any location across multiple devices. Case managers can use secure software solutions to better take and organize case notes, case plans, intake forms, and other types of paperwork.
Modernizing these practices offers an improved client-focused approach. With streamlined administrative duties, case managers can use technology to spend more quality time with the children and parents under their care. Learn more about the benefits in the sections below.
SaaS software uses intuitive design focused on the user experience. It works with the system that child welfare professionals know already to ensure they can adopt the software quickly at their organization. Developers have studied user actions within child welfare case management systems, and then have created digital versions that simplify the process.
For example, PlanStreet has built its customizable software on the four steps of child welfare case management.
The human-centered design means that case managers don’t have to waste their precious time digging through the software to find what they’re looking for. Simple organization and a clean interface for each child ensure that case workers can find the information they need in seconds.
Data records are the backbone of Child Welfare Services. Most states are required to keep robust records of all the children in their care, including a database of maintaining records on child abuse and neglect. However, many legacy software tools use outdated manual entry, which can compromise the accuracy of the data inserted. This can lead to more problems of abuse and mishandling of cases.
Additionally, manual entry takes a toll on case workers. Instead of spending more time with the children and families that need their attention, they’re stuck working late hours trying to insert information into clunky, outdated systems.
Case workers need enhanced data acquisition tools to streamline the process of notetaking and reporting. Cloud-based platforms allow case workers to use the software anywhere they go. They can take notes while meeting with a client and it loads onto the platform simultaneously, syncing across multiple devices. The data collected can be used to create reports automatically, meeting the needs of grants and federal funding requirements. Photos can be taken with mobile technology (such as smartphones) and uploaded to the case file in the platform, documenting critical history that may be needed in courts later.
Continual improvement of case management is critical for child services professionals. Communication is key; with data collected in case management software, case workers can create results-oriented processes. Easily accessing past case files and projects allows professionals to examine what has worked in the past and what hasn’t. In a few clicks, they can see diagnostic results with accurate service planning data.
Using successful results, case managers can automate workflows for each step of the case management process. These tasks can be auto-populated for every new client. Intake forms, service planning, needs assessment, case note formatting, and more can be customized to fit the needs of each organization.
Child welfare professionals are under immense stress, with 63.7% reporting suffering from burnout after the COVID-19 pandemic. These professionals experience stress from a variety of areas. They are expected to dutifully care for the children under their purview, yet they also have to answer to immense reporting systems and carefully document case notes, case plans, court reports, case summaries, and more.
Additionally, they’re doing all of this work under tight deadlines. They must meet with parents, foster parents, children, and their supervisors to create these documents and address needs. Technology gives case workers a slight reprieve from the stress of data collection. It allows case workers to do two things at once: upload case notes to the required parties in the cloud-based system, and also meet with a child and learn more about their needs.
Accessing real-time data during meetings on mobile gives case workers insights and helps them find solutions in seconds. They don’t have to go back to the office and look through a legacy system on a desktop. Better organized data gives social workers the tools they need to do their job faster, allowing them to focus on the needs of the kids and families in front of them.
The 1994 Amendments to the Social Security Act (the Act) authorized the Children’s Bureau to more closely monitor the spending behind the Title IV-E Foster Care Program. The organization completes robust reviews for state and tribal spending. Outdated technologies don’t give states the up-to-date data needed to remain compliant with Title IV-E, especially after the new prevention activities added in Family First.
Family First encourages children to stay in the home with a family as much as possible. States must provide “greater access to mental health services, substance use treatment, and/or parenting skills courses.” This change of funding means that these services must be accurately tracked for agencies to secure money from the federal government. Case management software has a dedicated space for service tracking, making it easy for case managers to prove they connect their clients to recommended services.
A child may move to a different home on an emergency basis. While every state looks different, the guardians in the home must be approved by Child Welfare Services within approximately 90 days. The RFA approval program combines foster parent licensing, relative approval, and approvals for adoption and guardianship. If the family is not approved in a timely manner, then states could lose the federal funding for that client. This means that they have to rely on county and state funds until the family is approved.
Cloud-based systems can speed up approval processes. With all of the data stored in one place, relevant case managers can create psychosocial assessments faster. Calendars and scheduling tools make it easy to work with families for home environment checks and required training. The quicker RFAs are approved, the less likely agencies are to lose their federal reimbursements.
In the earlier days of technology, businesses would create their own software systems to use internally. Starting in the early 2000s, SaaS software became available. Instead of building a costly interface, businesses can purchase a subscription and use another company’s software. Many child welfare agencies are still using costly legacy software that was built decades ago, costing an unideal portion of the budget to maintain.
Switching to SaaS software cloud-based platforms such as PlanStreet lowers administrative costs. Pricing is dependent upon how many users are needed, a huge benefit for small organizations working on tight budgets. Additionally, HIPPA-level security, new exciting features, and 24/7 support are included in the monthly fee. There are no hidden fees and no surprise IT costs come up throughout the year.
State agencies, local agencies, and non-profits can save both time and money by switching to child welfare case management software through a SaaS platform. They’ll receive modern features that make a case worker’s day-to-day workloads easier to manage, and they’ll save money in their operating budget.
Child welfare professionals complete life-saving work that meets the vital needs of children and families. PlanStreet’s child welfare case management software offers cutting-edge technology that streamlines workflows, allowing case managers to find solutions faster and spend more time focused on their clients. PlanStreet works with agencies providing case management services for the Children’s Home and Community Based Services (CHCBS) Medicaid Waiver and In-Home Support Services (IHSS) Benefits, as well as other state, local, and non-profit organizations.
Reap the benefits of PlanStreet’s automated streamlined workflows, including:
Learn more about how PlanStreet can create a customized technology solution for your child services organization and schedule an introductory call with us today.