Ultimately, Case Navigator™ is designed to do one thing: serve parents (and the professionals who work with them) in such a way that families can safely reunify faster, avoiding TPRs.
Case Navigator has three (3) primary goals within that vision (the “what” we do):
- To reduce TPRs (i.e., increase reunification)
- To safely get to permanency faster (i.e., to reduce delays and continuances that are all too common)
- To reduce “reengagement” of the family with DHS/Juvenile Court (i.e., we don’t want them to be involved in the system again; we don’t want their children removed again).
Here’s “why” we are focused on those goals:
- Even when the home situation is not ideal, children are often better off with their biological parents (not always, of course, but often).
- Children deserve a “forever home,” and shouldn’t be made to wait unnecessarily for that.
- It saves the taxpayers significant money, without changing any of the criteria for a safe return home.
- It frees up the other professionals to focus on the “top-of-the-pyramid” issues (legal, social work-related) that they are uniquely qualified to address, rather than the “foundation-of-the-pyramid” issues like terminology, procedures, and expectations.
- Parents learn about “best practices” for parents (e.g., make sure your team has your current information, make sure you are in compliance with your case plan), that will help them understand and set their priorities in order to get to the best outcome. It doesn’t appear “self-serving” because it’s not coming from the people who are making the recommendations—rather, it comes from an experienced, third-party, objective case navigator.
- Money that is currently spent on TPRs, appeals, post-TPR foster care and adoptive care subsidies can be redirected to help other families (because there is no need for TPR/appellate legal fees or post-termination foster/adoptive care subsidies when a family reunites).
And here’s “how” we do that:
- An initial teaching session (terms, acronyms, expectations, process, and logistics).
- Monthly accountability task lists and an on-line client portal which allows the team to access critical documents, up-to-date contact information, and resources.
- Text notifications to clients reminding them of upcoming hearings.
- First contact resource person for questions and clarification.
- A final wrap-up session to celebrate, and also develop strategies to keep kids safe going forward.
Case Navigator™ offers a new way to look at how we work with families in juvenile court; one that does not ignore the importance of the top-of-the-pyramid work or seek to replace it, but instead provides a strong foundation on which to build that work.