Eckerd Rapid Safety Feedback® (ERSF), a unique process relying on real-time data analytics to flag high-risk child welfare cases for intensive monitoring and caseworker coaching, was highlighted in a new report issued by the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities (CECANF).
The report calls the Eckerd Kids approach “innovative” and includes a detailed case study of the implementation of ERSF in Hillsborough County. Among its recommendations, the report suggests that states look to ERSF’s principles and practices in order to develop their own plans to prevent fatalities in their jurisdictions. Eckerd is currently working with Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine and Oklahoma to custom-tailor the model to meet their distinct child welfare challenges and priorities.
“The CECANF report is an important milestone in national efforts to reduce deaths and injuries to children from abuse and neglect, and we are honored to have the ERSF approach recognized,” said Bryan Lindert, Senior Quality Director at Eckerd Kids. He noted that, “At its heart, ERSF is a people-focused process that makes use of predictive analytics to help caseworkers follow best practices and keep kids safe.”
Before Eckerd assumed responsibility as the lead child welfare agency in Hillsborough, that county had experienced an unprecedented nine abuse-related deaths in less than three years among children receiving services from the prior lead agency. Coming on board with a focus on turning around those statistics, Eckerd analyzed data from 1,500 open cases in Hillsborough County in which children were abused or neglected. From that data emerged a profile of those cases with the highest probability of serious injury or death. These cases had multiple factors in common, including a child under the age of three; a paramour in the home; substance abuse and domestic violence history. The research also identified child welfare practice skills critical to keeping kids in this high-risk category safe – including things like frequency of home visits.
“The case for action to keep children safe has never been stronger,” said County Commissioner Sandra L. Murman. “Child advocates and leaders in Hillsborough County can be proud of the work that has been highlighted in this report to stop child fatalities. We will continue to move forward with innovative ideas generated from right here in Tampa Bay.”
Predictive analytics provided by technology partner Mindshare Technology alerts case workers to the presence of such high-risk cases. Mindshare’s software also, for example, provides the capability to mine data along with real-time dashboards that can be used to help ensure accountability for identified safety actions and quantify improvements in case practice over time.
A formal evaluation of ERSF is in progress, but current research shows a 36 percent improvement in sharing critical case information with providers (including mental health, substance abuse, and domestic violence services); a 35 percent improvement in supervisory reviews and follow-up by case managers; a 25 percent improvement in the effectiveness of safety plans; and a 22 percent improvement in the quality of case management contacts and discussion with families.
Since ERSF was launched in Hillsborough in 2013, there have been no abuse-related deaths in the population receiving in-home services from Eckerd. “The data analytics informs us of high-risk cases so we can intervene to provide a ‘second set of eyes’ review and coaching to ensure that the caseworker is following critical best practices,” said Lindert.
CECANF was appointed by Congress and President Obama to develop a national strategy to reduce fatalities from child abuse and neglect. Its 151-page report, http://bit.ly/1Rpncin, issued March 17, 2016, is the result of more than two years of deliberations and hearings.