Game Changing: Caseworkers says Child Welfare Technology Improves Outcomes and Increases Staff Satisfaction
At a recent American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) led session, caseworkers from across North America said their first-hand experience with child welfare mobile technology showed it makes everything easier, saves time, and improves family engagement.
At that session, representatives from the Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (QIC-WD), a federally funded organization, said evidence-based analysis of mobile child welfare technology showed a positive impact.
Participants offered these key benefits from their experience using a mobile child welfare solution:
- Modern Approach Brian Taugher, a child protective services senior investigator with the Fairfax County Department of Family Services commented, “The mobile application has totally changed me. And the ability to stay with the family longer and do a more thorough investigation out there in the field and have the notes automatically uploaded into the case documentation system. And it’s just been … a total game changer. And I have only had such a positive experience.”
- Time Savings Brett Head, an intervention services assessor with the Government of Alberta Children’s Services noted, “We work in a job where there isn’t enough hours and enough days to do the work that needs to be done. And so having the ability to do that work in real time with our families made the biggest difference in the work that we do.” She also commented, “It is a time saver for staff. We’re better able to juggle our job, which helps with retention and helps us to not get overwhelmed by all of our tasks.”
- Less Paper Megan Mitchell, a family services specialist in the Family Preservation Unit at the Henry-Martinsville Department of Social Services in Virginia said, “Because I think when we were doing paper copies of service plans and assessments, you know, we would come back to the office and type those up. And we either have to take them back out to the field and have them sign and then mail them a copy of it. So being able to go over it with them in the application and then we can email it right from the application on the iPad. So, I think there’s been a lot of great impact on the clients.”
- Better Engagement with Families Travis Patera, a family services specialist with Chesterfield County Social Services in Virginia shared, “I remember I was leaving one home visit and I got my car and I was like, ‘Okay, who am I going to see next’? And then I was like, I don’t remember what my last conversation with them … I hit the button to have the application read the notes to me. And so while I’m driving to that visit, the application is reading to me, what happened at that visit, what the conversation was. And so I’m just much more able to speak to it when I get there and be able to know what all the pointers are I need to address again when I arrived there.”
- Safer Environment Brian Taugher, a child protective services senior investigator with the Fairfax County Department of Family Services said, “Having immediate access to the Structured Decision Making (SDM) Tool in the application helps us determine whether a family is safer, conditionally safe or unsafe, and whether or not we have to implement a safety plan in the field. It helps us be more accurate and thorough in the field in determining when a safety plan is needed even if we just met that day after hours and it’s not going to be our case. Or, we have no previous history with the family, it helps us to ask those questions and determine the true needs of the family and if the children are at risk.”
- Greater Caseworker Satisfaction Dana Hollinshead, PhD, an assistant research professor with the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse & Neglect at the University of Colorado and a leader with QIC-WD said, “So, we asked them [caseworkers] about satisfaction with the mobile application. We did open ended questions and the themes that emerged from there was that generally, again, it was just being able to access that information. Whether it was case information, case context, historical case contact information, entering information, the efficiency and accuracy that staff were feeling was associated with having this device with them, and getting worked on in real time. It really provided a good support to be able to complete the work remotely. There are features such as reminders that are very helpful for staff to remember, it’s time to get that assessment completed and submitted.”
The session was part of APHSA’s Third Thursday series on Health and Human Services Collective Learning. RedMane’s child welfare practice leader, Cheryl Hartshorne, facilitated the session. Cheryl is a former child welfare caseworker, casework supervisor, and department leader.
The full session is available on APHSA’s YouTube page here.
Details on all the participants is available on APHSA’s Third Thursday page here.
RedMane Technology provides software solutions and systems integration services that address complex, real-world challenges. RedMane’s human services expertise includes child welfare, child support, eligibility, and case management. RedMane is a problem-solving company. Technology is just one of its tools.
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