National Child Abuse Prevention Month: How to support caseworkers working with at-risk children

By Annabell Lee & Evelyn Ratnakumar

Caseworkers are on the front lines of child abuse prevention and intervention. The work they do is essential to ensure positive outcomes for children and their families. That is why it is imperative that they are given the right tools to do their job.

But, how can technology help caseworkers deal with the rigors of their job?

Imagine you are a caseworker.

Your typical day consists of meetings with your clients to track their progress and conducting assessments of their needs. At this moment, you will have to gather all the information you have about them, which could be months of information, and help them make critical life decisions.

On top of client meetings, there may also be team meetings. Sometimes decisions are made by the team as a whole, which requires compiling all the information that each one of them gathered and reaching a conclusion together.

There are also days that caseworkers will have to do home visits. This means that the majority of the time, caseworkers have to take trips outside their office to meet with the client. During a home visit, a caseworker may assess the living conditions, assess how a client’s environment is impacting them, and deliver interventions.

Caseloads are heavy. The average caseload has 17 children involved. Imagine the paperwork needed to keep everything sorted.

Data entry and note compilation are essential tasks in the process of making informed decisions, as well as to meet government guidelines and compliance. The amount of administrative work is typically around 20 pages of paperwork per child.

This results in a majority of caseworkers spending their time on paperwork and administrative tasks.

The average caseworker is around 42 years old. While many adults are tech-savvy, it is important to remember that having a user-friendly interface is part of easing caseworkers’ burden. We want to make sure that at times of high stress that the technology they are using is helping, rather than hurting.

Technology can help ease the burden of administrative tasks and enable caseworkers to focus on what’s important: bringing about a positive impact on families and children.

Case management in the new normal

Technology is especially important now that the case management landscape we described earlier has changed and become even more challenging. Home visits and in-person case management used to be the status quo. We now have a different situation on our hands. It has been a year since COVID-19 hit our country and has resulted in a temporary halt to fieldwork. Just like everything else, casework has gone virtual.

The ease of accessibility is crucial to helping caseworkers continue to administer their daily tasks. Working from home, access on mobile devices, and the ability to capture and listen to notes more easily becomes crucial.

States are increasingly realizing the need for asset-light, low-cost solutions that can be set up much quicker than enterprise solutions. This is why several of them are getting off their decades-old legacy systems and opting for SaaS offerings delivered over the cloud.

Remote case management

When home visits and conversations have to be limited to a tablet screen, the caseworker, admittedly, can face a level of discomfort. Moreover, the current situation has created an “alienation effect” between the caseworker and the client, which is a gap that has to be bridged.

During these times of social distancing, working as a team while being in your own safe spaces is an advantage workflow automation platforms on the cloud can offer.

With a sound technology platform that allows you to store all your case documents and equipped with a powerful internal search tool, remote working in human services becomes a cinch.

Virtual visits

Video calls and conferences can form the ideal replacement for field visits for caseworkers. A virtual meeting, when done the right way, can bridge the gap arising out of lack of physical visits. Scheduled check-ins make it convenient for users and incorporating technological aids like Google Meet and Zoom calls can help caseworkers see their clients and interact with other stakeholders, thus effectively addressing the alienation effect.

Preparing your caseworkers for the new reality

Now is a crucial time to ensure your caseworkers adapt to cloud platform services for their end-to-end case management. Creating systems that address virtual and collaborative casework can help all stakeholders in welfare agencies get up to speed on using technology in their work even beyond COVID-19. An upside is all the efficiency and lack of human error that springs from going digital with mobile-first platforms.

The new normal of social distancing has called for caseworkers to embrace remote work. The ease and efficiency that cloud-based case management platforms using advanced technologies offer will make them indispensable even when lockdowns and social distancing norms are eased in a post-coronavirus America.

How Cardinality helps

Cardinality’s Child Welfare platform does a number of things to make caseworkers' lives easier. Using Cardinality’s connected, modernized and secure, cloud-based technology platform, the State of Maryland implemented MD-CJAMS, the case management system for child, juvenile, and adult welfare, and rolled it out statewide in a record 27 months, enabling its Department of Human Services to efficiently provide welfare services to vulnerable citizens.

Caseworkers too have pointed out the user-friendliness of the platform. Using a human-centric approach, Cardinality ensures that users can easily learn how to use their software with little resistance.

Technology that drives Cardinality’s Child Welfare platform

Being a caseworker can be extremely rewarding, however, one cannot deny the difficulty of the job, which has resulted in high attrition rates in many welfare agencies across the country. The rates are especially high for new trainees. User-friendly technology will be important for onboarding new caseworkers and potentially help with recruitment.

With ease of access, onboarding, minimizing of repetitive tasks that can easily be automated, and an option for remote work, Cardinality’s Child Welfare platform can help agencies and their caseworkers help prevent child abuse and neglect.

Check the features of our solution to know more.