This piece was originally published in the June 2018 issue of Policy & Practice magazine.
Moving beyond compliance: Accelerated outcomes in child welfare
The spirit of child welfare is safeguarding children and families. When the rubber meets the road, however, service delivery is predominantly driven by compliance.
The obligation to comply with federal funding rules, state regulations and court orders has become a central focus – eclipsing other actionable conversations about the safety and well-being of children. That can lead to unintended consequences:
- Caseworkers are preoccupied with back-office functions instead of providing direct service.
- Caseworkers who are exhausting themselves on administrative tasks often spend less time with children and their families.
- When caseworkers do get to direct services, they are faced with making child safety decisions with limited information and time.
While compliance will always be important and essential, the challenge is that meeting the letter of the regulation has too often become an end in and of itself. The pathway to better child welfare results requires positioning and enabling the caseworker with the right insights and tools to make thoughtful, informed decisions about the children and families they serve.
Right at our fingertips is technology innovation waiting to be used. With a new mindset in place, we can rethink how new and existing tools can better enable our caseworkers. Using data insights, artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and extended reality, we can create a new service ecosystem by weaving technology and casework into an approach that puts the child and family at the center of the provided services. Specifically, we can focus on how technology can and should be used to return front-line staff’s full attention to the direct service of children and families – something only humans can do.
Review the full article for recommendations on how child welfare agencies can orchestrate human and technological capacities together to accelerate outcomes for children and families.