As many of you know, Senate File 79 is the bill proposing funding for Case Navigator™. By their nature, bills are written fairly broadly. They tell you what is being proposed, but don’t always explain why (i.e., the benefits of enacting that particular bill) or the how (the details). In this case, the

In this case, the why actually has three parts:

  • It helps families safely reunify faster and avoid termination of parental rights (TPR);
  • It makes the job of the professionals who serve on the family’s team easier, more efficient and more effective; and
  • It has the potential to save the state a significant amount of money.[1]

So how does Case Navigator™ do these things?

Helping families safely reunify faster and avoid TPR

  • I’ve written elsewhere about the teaching parts of Case Navigator™, and how they can reduce the anxiety clients are feeling, allowing them to focus on higher-level issues, make better decisions, and have better outcomes. I’ll not rehash that here.
  • The technology piece helps them stay on track in the following ways:
    • Parents are asked to do a lot of things in order to get their kids back. And these requirements come from multiple sources: the court, DHS, Family Team Meetings (“FTMs”), and the Family Safety Risk Permanency (“FSRP”) worker, to name a few. Case Navigator™ pulls the tasks from each source and puts them in one easily accessible place. Additionally, it includes only what the parent is to do, not what others are “assigned” (e.g., if the FSRP worker is to do something for them, that might show up on the FTM notes, but it will not show up on the client task list that Case Navigator™ creates).
    • The “critical tasks” part of the list is measured and triggers a notification to the attorney if the client is not compliant so that the attorney can follow up and get the client back on track, instead of finding out about it at the hearing.
    • The date of their next hearing and next FTM is at the top of every screen (other than the login), so they can easily access that information. And it doesn’t get lost in a calendar of other events and appointments.
    • There is one place where they can access their documents, their task list, contact information for their team, and resources.
    • They can easily update their information in one place that the team can access, making communication easier.
  • When parents substantially comply with their orders and case plans, they are much more likely to get their kids back. Compliance also means that they are attending therapy and substance abuse treatment (if ordered), so they are growing and improving, getting healthy and stronger. In other words—becoming better parents.

Makes the job of the professionals easier

  • The teaching piece helps the professionals because Case Navigator™ is taking care of the foundational teaching and logistics information, which means that the other professionals can now focus on the higher level issues that they are uniquely qualified to do.
  • The technology piece saves time and effort
    • FTM Facilitators can directly upload their meeting notes to the site, instead of emailing them to everyone, which risks missing some team members.
    • The team can access critical documents easily, no matter where they are.
    • Because parents only have to update their information once, it saves team members time calling around trying to track down new contact information (i.e., now when a client changes her phone number, she has to call multiple people (attorney, DHS, FSRP, CASA, etc. With the Case Navigator™ technology, she only has to update in one place, and the entire team will have access to the updated information).
    • The push notification to clients relieves the professionals of constant reminders about the upcoming hearing. And it’s less likely that a client will miss a hearing, because of these three reminders (one week prior, the day before, the day of). If the client has a conflict, he can reply “H” for help, and the attorney can follow up.
    • Blank forms reside on the site so that clients can access and complete them easily.
    • All the critical documents and contacts reside in one place instead of multiple systems, some of which the professionals may not have access to.
    • Case Navigator™ will train the client on the system.

Has the potential to save a significant amount of money.

  • Reunifying families saves the state money in three primary ways:
    • If a parent’s rights are terminated, they frequently appeal that decision, which means increased legal fees incurred by the state (because most parents have a court-appointed attorney). If their parental rights are not terminated, there is obviously no appeal.
    • If a parent’s rights are terminated, there are often significant pre-adoption foster care subsidies (assuming a non-relative placement).
    • If a child is adopted, there may be significant adoptive subsidies (again, assuming a non-relative placement) that can continue until the child reaches the age of majority. This is especially true if the child has special needs.
  • Reducing the frequency of things that contribute to continuances (e.g., “forgetting” a hearing, necessitating a reschedule, inconsistent compliance) means that reunification can occur faster without compromising safety. This means lower legal fees and lower foster care subsidies (with the bonus of shorter time in an out-of-home placement for the child).

All of this means that the process is more effective and more efficient for everyone—parents, children, and the professionals who serve them.

Have questions about any of this? Give me a call or shoot me an email—I’d be happy to talk to you about it.

[1] While this would not likely result in lowering your taxes, it would mean that we can serve more families for the same amount of money.

The Why and the How of SF79
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