How Can We Identify Gaps in Placement Types, Services, or Other Issues for Foster Care?

How Can We Identify Gaps in Placement Types, Services, or Other Issues for Foster Care?

This is part 5 of this series. You can access part 1 here or download the entire concept paper here.

What a foster care system?

A foster care system is an organized effort, usually by governmental agencies and non-profit organizations, to provide for the welfare of children who cannot live with their parents or other caregivers and who need care, education, and/or rehabilitation. The system includes a network of social workers, foster parents, adoptive parents, orphanages and other institutions that provide care for children in need of assistance.

What is a system of care?

A system of care is a network of agencies that support the well-being of individuals, families, groups, communities. Agencies in a system of care include health care systems; educational institutions; social welfare programs; and justice systems. A system of care also refers to a community-based approach that seeks to meet the needs of all members, including those in need and vulnerable populations.

What is the California Children’s Services system for children, youth and families?

The California Children’s Services system has many different components, but one of the most well-known is CDSS. The CDSS was created in 1968 with the goal to provide a supportive system that would help children, youth and families. The CDSS has many different components that work together for the goal of providing support to those in need. One of the most important parts of the CDSS is the Child Protective Services. This service helps children in need by ensuring that they are safe and well taken care of. There are many other services provided to families through the CDSS.

How Can We Identify Gaps in Placement Types, Services, or Other Issues for Foster Care?

AB 2083 call for a report to the legislature. In October of 2020, a report for Recommendations to The Legislature on Identified Placement and Service Gaps for Children And Youth In Foster Care Who Have Experienced Severe Trauma put forth a plan. The plan includes three phases.

• Phase I: Mapping Current Continuum and Identifying State and Local Data.

• Phase II: Local Capacity Gap Determinations Related to Placement Settings and Service Networks.

• Phase III: Planning to Address Identified Capacity Gaps Using System of Care Approach.

Phase I: Mapping Current Continuum and Identifying State and Local Data for Foster Care

In phase 1, stakeholders developed a resource document, the Continuum of Care for Children in Out of Home Settings. In order to create a more complete picture for a child/youth, P-CIS can exchange information with electronic records to track the start and end dates for each of the out-of-care settings across different agencies in the system of care. In the example, Alice and her family were placed in Prevention Orders by Probation Agency from September 1-30. Then on October 1, Alice and family started on Court Ordered Family Maintenance with Child Welfare Agency. Meanwhile, Alice was participating in Trauma Informed Care program with Behavioral Health Agency.


Phase 1 also identified data sources for sharing.

P-CIS uses a process Opeeka developed called Inquisitive Data Exchange and Analysis (IDEA). IDEA standardizes sharing into blocks of information called questionnaires. (Imagine that one agency is asking another agency about the things they need to know. Each piece of information is organized into a question/response.) Questionnaires group together information by themes and categories. They also provide a description of each “question” (e.g., what services were provided? How many school expulsions occurred last semester?) and response along with optional thresholds for alerts, notes and flags of confidentiality.

How are response options identified?

Responses can be multiple choice, free text and numeric ranges. This structure standardizes the exchange of nearly every type of information and displays groups of related pieces of information succinctly together, color coding responses where helpful. This format for information sharing is also helpful because it operationalizes the sharing of information into a very natural communicative exchange based on asking questions and receiving answers.

What is the benefit of using the IDEA methodology?

This eases the burden of communication about what data to exchange because one agency simply needs to ask a question and the other simply needs to provide a response. P-CIS acts as the coordination piece which organizes the questions and responses between each electronic record system.

Phase II: Local Capacity Gap Determinations Related to Placement Settings and Service Networks for Foster Care

In Phase II, California will identify local capacity gaps for placement settings and service networks. P-CIS is designed to recognize individual, population and sub-population patterns of strength, needs, traumatic experience, circumstance, cultural preference, Social Determinants of Health (SDoH), supports and care circle. P-CIS dynamic insights allow users to drill into specific sub-populations to instantly identify most common circumstances, areas addressed and areas unaddressed – minutes after data is captured or exchanged. See Opeeka’s President’s Whitepaper for more information about the standard dynamic insights: Waterfall of Items Presented, Discovered and Resolved, Patterns and Priorities of Success, and Care Compare.

What about advanced analytics?

P-CIS embeds advanced analytics powered by Python and R uncover significant findings through higher level statistical approaches, such as regression, classification, hierarchical (students in classrooms in counties or youth in programs in counties), longitudinal or any other approach desired. With P-CIS as the hub for Inquisitive Data Exchange, no file export is needed to support evaluation efforts. Analytic staff can log into a P-CIS Analytics Space to perform any type of gap analysis on live and historic data.

What about linking data from different sources?

Because of the standardized and highly structured format of data exchange, P-CIS cleans, merges and transforms data minutes after it is collected. Data is then available to R and Python engines for evaluations which can be driven by selections from drop-down filters. Imagine running a model to identify the most common unmet need while considering age, race, gender, strengths, supports and services. Imagine selecting to run the model for only children/youth who experienced commercial sexual exploitation. What is their most common unmet need? Which service or support when present most often addresses that need and what geographical areas is it available? P-CIS will provide these insights.



Phase III: Planning to Address Identified Foster Care Capacity Gaps Using System of Care Approach

In phase III, a multi-year plan will address capacity gaps. The Insights in P-CIS can be calibrated to monitor this plan. Once Insights dashboards are developed by analytical staff, the insights can be democratized to one or more roles of user throughout the state. Users who log in will have access to Insights but for only the people they can access. This means that everyone can analyze their own population’s needs from the same dashboard – automatically. No further development is needed because

Is P-CIS HIPAA compliant?

P-CIS’s HIPAA compliant data access automatically applies democratization to all Insights. At any level of access, the dashboards will only analyze the people that the user can access. Rolling out one dashboard will provide insight into tens of thousands of sub-populations within minutes after launch. As Phase III roles out staff can track changes to population trends in real time.

We have an MOU, Now How Can We Share Data For Foster Care?

Children/youth and families deserve the best practice and care possible. If MOUs can be established between agencies in a system of care, siloed data should not be held prisoner, and technology should no be the enemy of collaboration and coordination of care. Opeeka is ready to support data sharing with low-sensitive data exchange to demonstrate the promise. The P-CIS system was built for just this purpose, and there are so many challenges that we can now address.

Continue to Next Blog?

This is Part 5 of the blog. Continue on to Part 1 here or download the entire concept paper here.

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