Every day in the United States, thousands of children are abused or neglected. They are one of the most vulnerable populations–and as such, require specialized care and support. Case management is an essential tool in helping address the needs of child welfare.
Child Welfare in the US
Children are one of the most vulnerable populations. They are young, impressionable, and require child welfare care that they cannot provide themselves. While we hope that each child receives the nurture and care they deserve, this is unfortunately not always the case.
There are an estimated 400,000 children in foster care at any given time in the United States. There are many reasons why a child might be placed there; often, it has to do with abuse or neglect. In fact, on any given day in the US, over 1,800 children experience such abuse.
With limited funding, these kids are provided with less than 50% of what is typically needed to raise a child in the US. The challenges of living in foster care, relying on welfare, and growing up with social services often means that these children face hardship well into adulthood.
As more health and human service organizations work to tackle the unique needs of child welfare, one tool has become a clear necessity: case management.
The Social Service Needs of Children
One of the biggest challenges for child welfare is that they require a comprehensive, or whole person care approach. Without the ability to manage care for themselves, children must rely on social workers or case managers to organize their care and ensure their safety. This can often be a daunting task.
In particular, health and human service providers for children must manage child care in each of the following areas:
- Physical Health
- Mental Health
- Chronic Conditions
- Family/Guardian Situations
- Education and Skills Goals/Outcomes
- Social and Physical Goals/Outcomes
- Social Determinants of Health (including housing, food security, family support, etc.)
Clearly, this requires collaboration with more than one single social service. If the organizations that provide such care to children do not communicate properly, it is the child who suffers the repercussions.
The Call for Case Management
Understanding the vital importance of care coordination in child welfare, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services encourages social service programs to move towards a comprehensive case management system.
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a division of the above department, has a particular mandate for social services dealing with adolescent welfare. They are pushing for states and organizations to move child welfare case management from legacy Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (SACWIS) to newer, more modern Comprehensive Child Welfare Information Systems (CCWIS).
CCWIS is a new paradigm of modular, interconnected systems that take advantage of best-in-class software for each aspect of child welfare case management.
Finding Case Management that Fits the Bill
Understanding the need for CCWIS is only half the battle for child welfare organizations–the next becomes finding case management that fits the bill.
While many case management systems may meet the base CCWIS requirements, they do not all offer the most important features in helping child welfare. In particular, there are three areas to consider: flexibility, analytics, and interoperability.
Flexible, configurable case management is an absolute must. Case management that can put children and family at the center of all activity, with clearly definable child, sibling, and parent relationships, is a good sign.
How well does the system you use (or are considering) deal with analytics and reports? These are an essential part of child welfare programs. Having comprehensive and powerful analytic tools is another important facet for case management.
Finally, interoperability (or the ability for the case management platform to interact and communicate with other programs) is a key component for effective child welfare case management.The CCWIS guidelines emphasize data exchange and interoperability.
A Future For Our Children
While the current outlook for child welfare may seem discouraging, there is still much hope to be had. Important strides in how health and human service organizations approach case management for children–and in particular, the CCWIS guidelines–offer a glimpse into how social services for youth are improving.
If you are a child welfare program or organization, it may be time to consider a case management platform that meets all your needs. ClientTrack® is an industry-leading care coordination system designed to accomplish all of the requirements above, and more.
ClientTrack is the case management system of choice for more than 1,200 government and private agencies. With its native cloud architecture, open API’s, and flexible database platform, ClientTrack is the embodiment of the next-generation system design envisioned for modern CCWIS systems.
Feel free to reach out for a demo today.