Ultimately, Case Navigator™ is designed to do one thing: meet the client where s/he is in order to close that “pyramid” gap, so children can safely reunify with their families faster.
Case Navigator has three (3) primary goals within that vision (the “what” we do):
- To reduce TPRs (i.e., increase reunification)
- To 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.
- Money that is currently spent on TPRs, appeals, 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 checklists 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.