“Great changes in the destiny of mankind can be effected only in the minds of little children.” — Sir Herbert Read
It is rightly said that a nation’s future depends on its children. These citizens of tomorrow lay the foundation of a nation. Hence, child welfare is at the heart of government agencies across the globe. Time and again various welfare schemes for children’s’ education, health, and well-being are rolled out. However, with increasing number of children in foster care, government agencies need to rethink their welfare care models.
Time to Rethink Child Welfare Models- The Numbers Say It All
Across the globe, each Federal Agency has a governing body solely responsible for children’s care and well being. The common goal for these departments is to enhance the quality of services and life for children.
Perspective- U.S. alone spends about $80 billion annually to confront child abuse and neglect. Taking this into account, the overall dollars spent on children welfare across the globe would give us a skyrocketing number. However, besides all the government initiatives what is noticeable is that there has been a huge upsurge in the number of US children in foster care. The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data released by the Children’s Bureau U.S show an upward trend in the numbers of children in foster care.
Let’s closely examine a formal foster care program. A formal program comprises- assessment and on-boarding of foster families, matching foster families with children’s needs, monitoring placements, supporting children and foster families post placement, supporting the children’s families and reintegrating them, and providing aftercare support.
If you carefully observe, each process requires constant and careful monitoring and seamless collaboration. Each child needs to be treated as a special case so that the welfare agencies can deliver the best in his/her interest. However, in the current state, the child welfare caseworkers spend 60 to 70 percent of their work time on case-related activities, and approximately 20 to 35 percent of work time is spent on direct client contact or collateral contact. This presents a strong case for government agencies to strengthen their foster care system and adopt technology that can support and empower caseworkers and other stakeholders.
Fighting The Odds- Delivering Better Foster Care Services
When a child is adopted in foster care, the goal of the agency is to provide a permanent home to the child, securing his/her childhood. Hence, it becomes important for agencies to frequently review their care plans, and determine if the child is ready for reintegration or needs alternative care. And, to address these needs government agencies are leveraging technology, but face quite a few challenges:
- Legacy systems- Agencies to date thrive on legacy systems. And, the inherent limitations of these systems make it difficult for agencies to cope-up with the increasing data volume and citizen expectations. Further, creating pressure on caseworkers and other stakeholders to deal with such systems rather than cater to children’s needs.
- Siloed information systems– Delivering quality care requires seamless information exchange across departments and systems. However, different states and counties have their own systems which do not allow for interoperability, resulting in siloed processes and low efficiency.
- Connecting front-end and back-end systems- A case involves various stakeholders’ participation, such as case workers, child welfare agencies, courts, schools, and The technology solution should allow for seamless collaboration and information flow across employees in the back-end to caseworkers on the field.
Enhancing Foster Care Program
To provide better care and make each grant count, caseworkers, supervisors, program plan managers and child-serving agencies, such as schools and courts, are putting in their best efforts. Leveraging the right technology can support this endeavor by facilitating effective information management, and overcoming the current process holdups.
Case Management systems based on BPM and ECM platforms offer a flexible work environment, access to contextual information and real-time insights, fostering better child welfare. With such systems in place, you can create a unified case file for each child by capturing their data from disparate sources. This information can then be made available to all the caseworkers, empowering them to derive insights through detailed reports containing child’s history and track record in school, foster family or in other care. Further, caseworkers can gain access to all the indispensable information pertaining to each child such as their background details, previous abuse cases, regulations involved & other details and ensure that the child is placed in the best suitable environment.
A configurable Child and Family Welfare Solution can support government agencies towards their goal to offer better care through empowered case volunteers, informed foster parents and responsive department authorities.