Child welfare better empowered to implement Continuum of Care Reform

DUBLIN, Ohio—March 6, 2019—Yuba County Health and Human Services (HHS) is investing in new technology—Traverse®—that uses artificial intelligence to surface key case information to help child welfare caseworkers make critical safety decisions.

"With the shift in California to implement Continuum of Care Reform, we are focused on reducing the use of congregate care and increasing capacity in home-based placements for youth. In order to effectively locate home-based placements, we need to identify and connect with extended family members and existing natural supports who we can revisit as a potential placement. Currently that information exists in a two-foot tall paper case file. To read through that volume of paperwork and get a good picture of the youth's history and potential supports for home-based placement is very challenging,” said Karleen Jakowski, LMFT, Deputy Director, Yuba County HHS.

Finding children a permanent home would reduce unnecessary trauma and costs. According to a 2011 report from the National Council for Adoption, the average maintenance and administrative cost to care for each foster child is $25,782 per year. Based on that average, Yuba County HSS will spend nearly $5 million to care for the 193 children currently in foster care.

In addition, case information is split between California’s online case management system and paper case files, further challenging caseworkers.

"CWS/CMS is an electronic system, but we have to supplement that with large paper case files full of collateral information, particularly for kids who are in permanency care and may have spent years in foster care," Jakowski said.

The agency will arm 35 child welfare staff with the product Traverse to collect, view and share case content from anywhere at any time. The technology will help caseworkers manage the volume of content in case files so they can focus less time on manual paperwork and more time doing high-value work with children and families.

Caseworkers will use the web-based application in the office to scan and upload documents and a companion mobile app to easily take photos and complete forms during home visits.

All the data and content collected both in the office and in the field is automatically analyzed by Traverse using artificial intelligence to surface data that often becomes dark, hidden or virtually impossible to retrieve. Traverse extracts critical information about the major topics, related events and people connected to the case to help caseworkers make informed, confident decisions about safety.

"What interested us about Traverse is the artificial intelligence feature. When a worker is out in the field investigating and needs to find out what interventions occurred in the past, the worker can have exactly what he or she is looking for in seconds. We can access critical information that can make or break a decision out in the field,” Julie Mahon, MSW, Program Manager, Child and Adult Protective Services.

"Traverse offers a really effective solution for a number of challenges that we are currently facing. My hope is that Traverse will put more information at staff’s fingertips to get children and youth in the most appropriate and beneficial setting possible and, ideally, placed with people who they are connected to. That’s where we see the best outcomes for children and youth and can prevent the added trauma of multiple placements,” Jakowski said.

“Identifying extended family members and positive supports within years of case history is a cumbersome and time-consuming process, but essential to reducing the number of children placed in congregate care. Using artificial intelligence, Traverse will surface key events and people within cases, helping support Yuba County’s Continuum of Care Reform efforts. We’re honored to be a partner in this amazing initiative,” said Chris McConnell, Vice President, Sales, Northwoods.

About Northwoods
Northwoods develops customized, high-tech software solutions for adult & aging, child support, child welfare and economic assistance. We help state and county human services agencies do more with less and get the results they need. Nearly 45,000 caseworkers across the country use our solutions to manage, collect, view and share content and data more efficiently. As a result, agencies improve service delivery, maximize productivity, make informed decisions and achieve better outcomes. Northwoods is headquartered in Dublin, Ohio.

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