In a new article in The Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research, Polaris demonstrates the potential benefits of collecting mental health and strength data from families and caseworkers to better predict the likelihood of permanent placements for youth in child welfare.
The paper is based on a multi-year study with child welfare agencies in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Missouri and North Carolina that used an automated behavioral health assessment system, Polaris-CW, to determine a youth’s needs and strengths by collecting data from multiple stakeholders, including the youth and caregivers.
The results of the study strongly suggest that incorporating the voice of youth can have a positive impact on how they react to and engage in planning their care, and minimize the feelings of isolation and frustration often expressed by those in the child welfare system, particularly minorities.
The paper also discusses the positive role technology can play in guiding case planning by identifying behavioral health conditions and predicting outcomes among abused and neglected youth. It calls for a cultural shift to encourage child welfare agencies to perceive the collection of assessment data as “business as usual.”
“Are Two Voices Better Than One? Predicting Permanency in Minority Youth Using Multi-informant Mental Health and Strength Data” was written by Polaris staff, Dr. Linda Toche-Manley, Laura Dietzen and Jesse Nankin in collaboration with Dr. Astrid Beigel, of Los Angeles County’s Department of Mental Health.
Polaris-CW supports service planning and treatment monitoring by helping caseworkers assess strengths and the impact of trauma and abuse on behavioral health. Following a rigorous review of its measures and scientific foundation, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development funded its development.