WHAT'S NEXT IN THE CASEWORKER'S Digital Toolkit? Leveraging Advanced Technologies in Child Welfare.

Author:Mills-Brinkley, Shelley

Child welfare caseworkers are inundated with high caseloads, many documentation requirements, and a lack of insightful support from antiquated systems. This leaves them with less time to interact with families and make any necessary fast-paced decisions. Time-consuming processes are often put in place to respond to adverse situations. Even when all steps are perfectly followed, something may inevitably happen to a child, which results in yet another protocol being created. These protocols tend to be manual at first and have a pile-on effect. Manual processes take precious time away from what is needed most in good casework practice--time to focus on the child's physical, psychological, and emotional well-being, and that of the family unit as a whole.

Imagine smart technologies taking over some of these routine, high-volume, and repetitive tasks. Imagine your child welfare information system providing intuitive decision support suggestions. It may seem farfetched, but not very long ago using mobile technology to do casework in the field seemed futuristic. Today smartphones, laptops, and tablets are a necessity and a critical part of a caseworker's equipment. Another example is the use of predictive analytics. What was once theoretical talk about the power of machine learning to support predictive analytics to help establish a course of action that abates risk and improves outcomes is no longer theoretical. (1) It is here and in use. We are once again at an inflection point to test and understand how other advances in technology can be adapted and applied to improve social casework. Along with the induction of mobile in day-to-day casework, the possibilities that technology advancements bring to the modern casework practice are in sight. The only question is how quickly are we willing to move?

The Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) federal regulations are a catalyst for infusing advanced technologies into child welfare casework. The CCWIS empowers child welfare agencies to break free from their current and dated monolithic systems--designed primarily as data collection and reporting tools--to modern, modular, and nimble solutions that support contemporary casework practices. What role can modern technologies, like robotic process automation, dark data analytics, anomaly detection, micro-services and blockchain play in technology support for casework? Let's examine some of the many possibilities.

Con a "Bot" Do It?

Robotic process automation (RPA) is a technology with the singular purpose of automating repeatable tasks. Unlike a typical automated system function, RPA is software that operates at the user interface level and mimics the activities of a caseworker using one or multiple applications. In the health insurance industry for example, a...

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