How mobile technology relieves the documentation burden for caseworkers

By | 2 minute read | March 10, 2020

As a former child welfare worker, I know from real-life experience that the time a caseworker spends visiting with children and their families is crucial to creating an effective plan that will help them be safe and achieve permanency in a timely manner. Trust is key and building that relationship takes time – time to listen, time to observe, time to understand.

When I started working as a caseworker, being out in the field meant carrying paper files to home visits and capturing case notes on pads of paper – pages that were later inserted into the paper case file. Impressions and visit notes were often documented after the fact, in the car between visits, at the end of the day, or on a bench outside the courtroom minutes before a hearing.

The advent of case management systems promised a host of improvements and efficiencies, but those did not extend to the caseworker in the field who continued to capture visit notes on paper. In fact, it became more challenging. Instead of slipping a page into a paper file, the caseworker needed to re-enter all that information into the electronic system of record. This led to longer days, unproductive time traveling back and forth to the office, delays in updating records and a high risk that the information would be lost. The average caseworker was spending less than 18% of their time in face-to-face contact with children and families but over 45% of their time documenting and traveling.1

Mobile access to case management systems frees caseworkers from double documentation so they can focus on what they do best – keeping children and families safe. Caseworkers can capture notes and add rich content directly to electronic case files, including photos, video and audio recordings. There is no trip back to the office and there are no delays in sharing critical information. An intake worker or investigator involved in an emergency or after-hours response has all of the latest information to make the best decision.

IBM is supporting caseworkers in the field by offering our Child Welfare clients best-in-class mobile capabilities through our partner, Diona, who is as dedicated as we are to health and human services. Diona’s mobile solutions are designed with deep industry expertise and input from former caseworkers to provide the best experience while on the go. Out-of-the-box connectors with our Child Welfare solution provide caseworkers with a seamless experience whether they’re in the office or out in the field. Even if the caseworker has no internet connection, the offline capabilities save notes and assessments taken during the home visit and updates the system once the caseworker is back online.

As agencies modernize, caseworkers are supported with a richer set of tools than they ever had before to support the work they do in the field. These solutions go a long way toward giving precious time back to the caseworker to listen, to understand, and to build that trust with children and their families.

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