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AI helps Yuba County caseworkers manage paperwork

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Yuba County Health and Human Services (HHS) is investing in new technology—Traverse—that uses AI to surface key case information to help child welfare caseworkers make critical safety decisions.

With the shift in California to implement Continuum of Care Reform, the Yuba County HHS is focused on reducing the use of congregate care and increasing capacity in home-based placements for youth. In order to effectively locate home-based placements, Yuba County HSS must connect with family members and others for potential placement.

To read through that volume of paperwork and get a good picture of the youth's history and potential people for home-based placement is very challenging, according to Karleen Jakowski, LMFT, deputy director, Yuba County HHS.

In addition, case information is split between California’s online case management system and paper case files, further challenging caseworkers.

Finding children a permanent home would reduce unnecessary trauma and costs. According to a 2011 report from the National Council for Adoption, the average maintenance and administrative cost to care for each foster child is $25,782 per year. Based on that average, Yuba County HSS will spend nearly $5 million to care for the 193 children currently in foster care.

The agency will arm 35 child welfare staff with the product Traverse from Northwoods to collect, view, and share case content from anywhere at any time. The technology will help caseworkers manage the volume of content in case files so they can focus less time on manual paperwork and more time doing high-value work with children and families.

Caseworkers will use the web-based application in the office to scan and upload documents and a companion mobile app to easily take photos and complete forms during home visits.

All the data and content collected both in the office and in the field is automatically analyzed by Traverse using AI to surface data that often becomes dark, hidden, or virtually impossible to retrieve. Traverse extracts critical information about the major topics, related events and people connected to the case to help caseworkers make informed, confident decisions about safety.

"What interested us about Traverse is the artificial intelligence feature. When a worker is out in the field investigating and needs to find out what interventions occurred in the past, the worker can have exactly what he or she is looking for in seconds. We can access critical information that can make or break a decision out in the field,” Julie Mahon, MSW, program manager, Child and Adult Protective Services.

"Traverse offers a really effective solution for a number of challenges that we are currently facing. My hope is that Traverse will put more information at staff’s fingertips to get children and youth in the most appropriate and beneficial setting possible and, ideally, placed with people who they are connected to. That’s where we see the best outcomes for children and youth and can prevent the added trauma of multiple placements,” Jakowski added.

 For more information, go to www.teamnorthwoods.com/Products/Traverse.

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