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National Adoption Month: How Cardinality.ai enhances permanency outcomes in child welfare

By Thiag Loganathan

Cardinality’s foster care module provides a complete digital approach for managing the lifecycle of foster parent engagement and the placement of vulnerable children in permanent caring homes.

Around 430,000 children are currently in the US foster care system. According to the Department of Human Services, a significant majority of the states have seen their foster care caseloads increase for four years in a row.

The theme for this year’s National Adoption Month is Engage Youth: Listen and Learn. This is a call to seek out a deeper understanding of systemic issues in foster care and to look at a holistic approach to child welfare.

There has been a thrust on kinship care, which takes into consideration a child’s and parents’ lived experience, and looking at solutions that do not result in the “removal” of the child. This is a plea for a service-delivery model that takes its cue from the historic child welfare Executive Order issued in June 2020, which asked states to strengthen their permanency plans for vulnerable children.

This would entail bolstering solutions supporting vulnerable families and low-income households by holding the kinship triad--child/youth, birth parents, kinship caregiver--sacred.

Cardinality’s child welfare solution has enabled caseworkers in Maryland, and soon in Indiana, to adopt a child-centric model in foster care. Our AI-powered solutions have facilitated state agencies to efficiently reach vulnerable families and provide them the support they require. Backed by the actionable insights from our platform, case managers have been able to opt for differential response in situations where a child does not have to be removed from their household.

Promoting kinship care

States are now urged to take more Federal assistance for kinship guardianship assistance under the Title-IV E Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP). This sets down a model for permanency that enables relatives to assume permanent custody with adequate financial support.

Our solutions help remove the hurdles in states facilitating kinship care:

Mitigating a cumbersome recruitment process

The availability of foster parents to care for children in need has not kept pace with the demand. Around 125,000 children were waiting to be adopted in late 2018. Most children spend an average of 2-5 years in foster care before being adopted. Some never do: nearly 20,000 age out of foster care without being adopted.

These worrying statistics are partly due to a cumbersome enrollment process for a caregiver, raising the need for new approaches to streamline the recruitment and onboarding of new foster parents. Additionally, finding a good match between child and foster family is critical as many children in foster care experience multiple failed placements; evidence shows that churn has a far-reaching negative impact.

A holistic system of care means faster help for the children and better insights from the information collected to create effective interventions. All of this requires a connected network of well-coordinated stakeholders that only technology can provide.

Cardinality for foster care

Our foster care application equips both agency employees and caregivers with better systems to communicate about the children in their care. Legacy technology and paper-based solutions cannot scale and lack the web and mobile options that foster parents prefer for managing their communications with the agency.

We provides a complete digital approach for managing the lifecycle of foster parent engagement, with modern applications to assist with the placement of vulnerable children in permanent caring homes, and for managing all interactions with foster caregivers and community partners.

Evidence-based placement

The Redbird AI built into our platform scores each provider based on multiple criteria such as monitoring plan, background checks, training of staff, etc and matches it against historical placement data, child characteristics, medical, and health factors, geographic proximity, psychographic information to suggest the most suitable provider to the caseworker.

This drastically reduces churn in foster homes and shortens the time to permanency.

As National Adoption Month is well underway, there is much to be done to ensure each child in America finds the loving home they deserve. Equipping hardworking case managers and state agencies with best-in-class technology will help us get closer to that goal.