Mobile solution to help caseworkers focus on protecting children, not paperwork
DUBLIN, OH—March 19, 2015—Chemung County Department of Social Services (DSS) is the first New York county to give caseworkers a mobile tool to help them protect abused and neglected children.
Northwoods’ mobile document management solution, Compass® CoPilot, will initially help 11 workers, including leadership, supervisors and 4 child protective services caseworkers in the Child Advocacy Center, access and update documentation using an iPad® app from the field, rather than using paper forms and documents. By the end of 2015, Chemung County DSS plans to roll out the technology to the entire Children and Family Services Division, including caseworkers who investigate suspected abuse and neglect, provide ongoing services to families and work in foster care and adoption.
Caseworkers have struggled to keep up with the volume of paperwork required to investigate child abuse and neglect, only meeting the requirements to complete investigations within 60 days 74 percent of the time and complete safety assessments within seven days 94 percent of the time.
A recent time study showed that Chemung County DSS caseworkers spend only 21 percent of their time visiting families. Paperwork consumes 45 percent of their day, with the remaining time spent on training, phone calls, forensic interviews or in court.
"The results of the time study were heartbreaking. Caseworkers are only spending one day out of five interacting with families and four days of paperwork associated with that one day. No one came into child welfare to sit at a desk and move papers around. I want our employees out with our families and spending less time on paperwork," said Jennifer Stimson, commissioner of human services.
The mobile app allows social workers to spend more time with families by reducing the time they spend completing required paperwork. Time spent in the field with families is the best way to improve safety outcomes, reduce reoccurrence and establish permanency for children.
Protective services social work is a high-stress, demanding job that comes with high turnover rates. Last year, the Chemung County DSS’ caseworker turnover rate was 29 percent. Reducing the paperwork burden reduces stress on caseworkers, which improves retention rates and decreases costs to train new workers.
"I think the main reason our turnover rates are so high is that people cannot keep up with paperwork in combination with the emotional toll of the job,” said Morgan Harvey, senior caseworker. “Ultimately I'd like to be out talking to kids in the schools, doing forensic interviews, doing follow-up home visits to ensure that things are going OK rather than spending time on paperwork and making sure everything is documented."
Northwoods partners with over 100 state and county human services agencies across the country.
Northwoods’ only focus is helping state and county human services agencies increase client service levels and productivity while cutting costs — allowing them to do more with less. Northwoods’ human services software solutions are designed around caseworkers and social workers, not simply data collection. Our Compass® products automate the flow of client and case information based on how caseworkers throughout the agency need to use it. Northwoods is headquartered in Dublin, Ohio. For more information, visit teamnorthwoods.com or follow Northwoods on Twitter @teamnorthwoods.