Youth in foster care face overwhelming challenges. Care providers play a key role in coordinating appropriate care that promotes healthy and happy lives for these youth. Cloud technology offers a new, powerful opportunity to share information in a way that other coordinated efforts have not. Electronic care coordination promotes more effective and reliable connections between caregivers, health providers, educators, and the youth themselves. The long term effects of connecting foster children with the right resources via this new technology eases their transition into adulthood, allowing them to lead healthier, more productive lives.
In 2015 the Department of Health and Human Services published the Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System legislation (CCWIS) to provide child welfare agencies more flexibility to adopt case management systems tailored to their organization’s unique needs. The following are the top ways electronic care coordination benefits children and youth in foster care.
Ensures Accurate and Complete Information
Electronic care coordination improves the quality of information available to the caregiving team enabling them to deliver the most effective care and treatment to the foster child. A CCWIS promotes data sharing with other health and human service agencies, education systems, and child welfare courts in order to coordinate services, eliminate redundancies, improve outcomes, and improve data quality. This level of oversight and coordination gives providers the accurate information they need to provide foster youth with targeted care.
Addresses Health Needs Holistically
Young people in foster care often have more complex health needs than other children due to the instability they face in their homes, schools, and access to healthcare. Typical consequences include a higher prevalence of developmental delays, language difficulty, attachment disorders, behavioral problems, and neurological impairments. Electronic care coordination can help providers form an effective and tailored approach that takes into account all of the child’s relevant health and mental health needs, and then addresses those needs based upon their complete history.
Reduces Costs While Providing More Effective Care
Historically care for foster youth has been very fragmented among providers, resulting in duplication of services and unnecessary care. Many health issues can be prevented when providers have the whole picture of a foster youth’s health history. Electronic information exchange and coordinated care gives all stakeholders access to important client information resulting in a net cost savings by eliminating unnecessary care and making more efficient use of time and resources.
Promotes Better Educational Outcomes
Education is one of the social determinants of health affecting overall physical well being. For foster youth, attaining an adequate education is tremendously challenging when faced with so many unstable environments. Frequent changes in schools adversely impacts academic performance, thereby limiting short and long term life opportunities.
Electronic care coordination helps to meet these challenges. By connecting the data across schools, teachers and caregivers are better equipped to understand a youth’s particular needs in order to create a tailored education plan that sets them up for success.
Technology is a key driver for successful care coordination for the most vulnerable among us. As caregivers, health providers, and educators work together, foster youth are guided down the path to leading healthy and productive lives.