casebook software for human and social services

Digitizing the Foster Family Application Process

The imbalance between foster family availability and children in need of foster care leads to a constant cycle of recruiting, training and licensing new foster families. The foster care licensing process is vital to ensure children are placed in safe and loving homes but it can take several months for a single family to be licensed – a huge time commitment for both families and licensing caseworkers. State and Community Based Organizations are constantly working to increase their pool of foster families and speed up the licensing process in order to meet the needs of the children they serve. 

As telecommuting and remote work becomes more common, now is a great time for organizations to explore how to scale operations and take new approaches to old processes. At Casebook, we are committed to helping Human Services organizations grow exponentially and achieve the best outcomes with the help of technology. One way we do this is by identifying which parts of the process are inefficient and labor-intensive, and building user-friendly products to handle the heavy lifting for both caseworkers and prospective foster families. 

Here are three ways organizations can speed up the foster licensing process, create more bandwidth for workers, and attract new foster families using technology.

customizable forms and workflows

Digitize Forms

Many agencies continue to rely on paper-based forms during the foster family application process, often requiring foster parents to fill out dozens of forms with the same information. This reliance on paper has several downsides:

  • Requires a physical handoff of paperwork either in person or via postal mail
  • Increases the potential for lost or misplaced forms and release of sensitive personal information
  • Necessitates duplicate data entry when information needs to be copied from a physical form to a database, spreadsheet or needs to be scanned or faxed elsewhere. 
  • For applicants, the sheer volume of paperwork can be overwhelming, especially if redundant.

Digitizing forms reduces the burden on caseworkers and applicants. Caseworkers no longer have to physically retrieve or transcribe documents, expediting the review and approval process. Applicants can fill out forms faster from electronic devices without needing to mail in or keep track of stacks of papers. 

Along with saving time for everyone involved, electronic forms are also a great user experience for foster family applicants. As agencies work to recruit new foster families, many applicants will expect and prefer to use their mobile devices or computers to fill out forms. By reducing the friction involved in the typical foster family licensing process, agencies can attract foster families who may have been overwhelmed by a paper-driven process.

Notebook and digital remote signature capture

Capture Signatures Electronically

Along with physical forms, many agencies rely on physical signatures as well, which have many of the same downsides. Digital forms alone can’t solve the requirement of having a non-typed signature on a document, but e-signatures are a great solution to speed up the foster licensing process and are recognized by the Federal Government as being valid and authoritative as physical signatures. 

Integrating digital forms with e-signatures allows applicants to use their own devices to sign documents and complete forms without scanning, emailing, or faxing documents. Caseworkers can capture signatures in the field on phones, tablets, or computers without needing to scan or upload physical documents once they get back to the office.

upload attachments

Get Organized with Electronic Attachments

Although it’s ideal for digitizing all forms and paperwork during the licensing process, it’s not always possible. That shouldn’t mean licensing caseworkers are forced to lug around overstuffed physical file folders from office to car to home just to get the information they need. With electronic attachments and a digital filing system, any physical forms relating to an application can be scanned or photographed, then uploaded and stored in an electronic record. 

This allows anyone at the organization to access the same data from anywhere without wasting time searching through physical file folders or trying to remember if a document was completed. Centralized attachment and document storage will lessen the burden on caseworkers and provide a much more satisfying search and retrieval experience.

Investing in these technological and process improvements directly impacts the capacity and outcomes that organizations can drive, and should be a top priority in order to meet the needs of foster children in this country.

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Foster family Services

Casebook for Foster Care

Learn more about how Casebook for Foster Care can help improve your recruiting, documentation and client communication.