Polaris study offers evidence of how outcomes management technology can transform child welfare services

In a case study published online this month in The Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research, researchers from Polaris Health Directions and the Department of Mental Health in the County of Los Angeles describes how outcomes management technology can transform the delivery of care for a child welfare system that is stretched thin and struggling to meet the needs of its clients. 

The paper is the second from a multi-year study on the implementation and use of an outcomes management system, Polaris CW, in child welfare agencies in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Missouri and North Carolina. The system supports service planning and treatment monitoring and can help predict the likelihood of permanent placements. Its routine use may also lead to significant cost savings with earlier identification of behavioral health needs and better targeting of services.

In this paper, the authors present a model for predicting resiliency among youth in child welfare, and share case examples to illustrate how outcomes management technology can be integrated into an agency’s workflow. They also discuss the common barriers that often interfere with the implementation of a full-scale outcomes management program and suggest possible solutions. 

For example, the authors advocate for looking beyond the use of outcomes technology simply for accreditation or other regulatory requirements and focusing on the long-term potential of program- and case-level data. Polaris CW provides an ever-growing wealth of information collected from multiple stakeholders, which over time with ongoing analysis can help identify cost-effective treatments and lead to the emergence of patterns of factors that are associated with success or failure when recovering from abuse and neglect.

Polaris CW was developed with funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. It is easily customizable to fit the needs of large- and small-scale agencies that serve youth in the child welfare system. It supports interagency collaboration, and, as a strength-based system, is designed to help improve family engagement in the treatment process. 

For more information on the system or the paper, “Revolutionizing Child Welfare with Outcomes Management,” please send an e-mail to moreinfo@polarishealth.com or visit /polaris-child-welfare/