Posted Thursday, April 27, 2017 by Rich Bowlen

Traverse in Action: Complete Case History Helps Social Workers Achieve Permanence for Children

Angel, a Foster Care & Treatment Social Worker in North Carolina, and Andrea, a Caseworker & Kinship Assessor in Ohio, are working toward the same goal: find the best placement the first time for a child coming into each of their agency’s care.

But critical information about the child—relatives, behavioral issues, or medical history—is often hidden or virtually impossible to retrieve. Without a full picture of the child’s detailed past and present, it’s difficult for Angel and Andrea to find the right placement at the right time, and most importantly, the first time.

So, how can Angel and Andrea uncover months and years of hidden information to achieve permanence for children? They’re using a protective services case discovery platform, Traverse® from Northwoods, to surface “dark data” and create a comprehensive story about each and every child’s life so they can make informed, confident decisions.


Finding the Right Foster Care Placement

Angel and her supervisor, Lisa, were seeking placement for a girl with several medical, behavioral, and mental health issues who needed a high level of care. Although the child had only been in the agency’s custody for the past year, the agency had accumulated several years of history for the girl and her family.

Angel and Lisa were aware of some of the activities, issues, and medications from previous placements, but they weren’t aware of everything, so they struggled to find a placement who could meet her complex needs.

Using Traverse to identify key events in the case, they found a timeline of previous placements and admissions to medical facilities. This led them to discovering previous medications mentioned in discharge summaries and two psychological evaluations they weren’t aware of.

Armed with a more complete medical history, Angel and Lisa could make informed decisions to find a placement where the child could get the high level of care she needed, as well as better prepare the placement provider in a way that would promote overall success.


Traverse-FosterCare-Kinship-Angel.jpg Traverse-FosterCare-Kinship-Andrea.jpg

"Every move for a child is traumatic.
You don't want a child to have to have so many moves. You can also reassess your work and think, 'What is going wrong? What can we do differently? What about these families didn't work? What can we do differently to make something work for a child?’"

Angel Roberts, Foster Care and Treatment Social Worker, Beaufort Department of Social Services

"Permanency is always what we strive for.
I've used Traverse already to look up a family and know all the family members attached.
I type in mom's name and Traverse comes up
with all the people associated.”

Andrea Stedman, Caseworker & Kinship Assessor,
Fairfield County Child & Adult Protective Services


Getting the Full Story to Find Permanency

Like Angel, Andrea often lacked critical information while assessing homes for possible placement for children in care. She typically received referrals with limited or rushed information, and didn’t have a full picture as to why the agency was involved or who was connected to the case. That made it difficult to identify placement options, consider all the child’s needs, or prepare the family to provide the best care.

Using People Connections in Traverse, Andrea doesn’t have to know who she’s looking for. She is provided with a list of everyone connected to the case to answer her key questions: Who are the current caretakers? Who has cared for the child in the past? Who can be a support for the child? Who is not a placement option? And most importantly, why are certain people a help or harm for this child?

She also uses the Word Cloud to understand the key topics or issues in a case, such as domestic violence, use of psychotropic medications, or special skill sets the caregiver may have. From there, she can drill into specific pieces of content within each topic to accurately understand the child’s needs and strengths. Even better, Andrea can find all this information without having to ask other caseworkers to take time away from families to enter the data she needs.

When Andrea is provided the ability to fully see the child’s past and present from the volume of complex information collected, she can ultimately find permanency for the child.

Traverse does the discovery work so caseworkers can focus on providing the helpful hands and caring hearts.


Traverse in Action: Foster Care & Kinship [User Story]

Watch the video or read the user story to hear more about using Traverse to achieve permanence for children in Angel’s and Andrea’s own words:

Foster care and kinship are just two of the protective services programs that can benefit from Traverse. Check out our full library of user stories and videos to see how CPS investigators, on-call social workers, court liaisons, protective services supervisors and program heads, and more are using Traverse to surface “dark data” to make informed, confident decisions.


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Rich_Bowlen.jpg Rich Bowlen is Director, Protective Services at Northwoods, where he is dedicated to improving the lives of caseworkers and social workers. Rich has 25 years serving in child protective services and is known for his passion for improving the lives of children.