Los Angeles has the largest child welfare system in the U.S. The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Los Angeles’ mission is to recruit, train and support community volunteers to advocate for those children. Their number one priority is to connect as many young people in the child welfare system with a caring advocate who will help support their needs within the court system.
For the hundreds of kids that require an advocate, CASA of LA needs to recruit, vet and train just as many volunteers. Each of those cases includes complex data points that inform team members working on behalf of the child and provide insights into what’s working and what isn’t.
The need for these services is growing. And CASA of Los Angeles is poised to help meet the community’s needs by scaling up to help expand their reach and help more children who have been abused or neglected. One-third of children in the welfare system are age 0 to 5—infants and toddlers representing the fastest-growing group of abused children. For many of the children receiving CASA of LA services, their volunteer advocates represent the only adult anchor who can serve as a crucial connection in a disrupted and chaotic life experience.
While the mission of CASA of LA seems simple, the amount of data for each case is significant. Data management is crucial in two areas: managing information related to the recruitment and training of volunteer court-appointed special advocates and managing a child’s case file among multiple team members. This vast amount of information needs to be accurately reported and shared securely.
CASA of Los Angeles logs volunteer applications, references, background checks, insurance and more. CASA of LA needed to have the ability to manage all of those recruitment data points in one place. Without the ability to track data in one place, CASA of Los Angeles ran the risk of information being overlooked or not being aligned and appropriately verified.
Volunteer court-appointed special advocates must attend and report on court hearings that can happen every three to six months. CASA of LA needed an efficient way of tracking that information, so both the volunteer and CASA of LA could access the same data. They needed a better way to track activities—including court dates—more accurately and efficiently.
Reporting was at the core of some of CASA of Los Angeles’ significant challenges. They needed to share information across multiple areas of the organization, including volunteer recruitment, training and advocacy. Staff needed to create data-driven reports that would give them the necessary insights to support their volunteers. Accurate reporting cuts down on miscommunication and missing information. The organization needed to keep data clean and easily shareable to work a case effectively. CASA of LA also needed the ability to report on many complex aspects of their program to analyze outcomes. While they could tell you how many volunteers they had and how many kids were being served, they couldn’t accurately report how CASA of LA impacted the young people they helped.
“One of the greatest things that has really helped our team is that we’re able to put our goals and activities within the Social Solutions platform. CASA of LA can look at those goals and have ongoing conversations with volunteers that really focus on advocacy and making sure that they’re doing everything that they need to do for that young person. It’s a great way to keep track of that support for our volunteers.”-MAEGAN MATTOCK, MSW, CHIEF PROGRAM OFFICER
Before using Social Solutions’ case management software, CASA of LA was serving 600-700 children. With the adoption of the new technology, CASA of LA transitioned from a very simple database to a customized dashboard and data management system that could support their goals and growth. By the end of June 2021, CASA of LA will be serving approximately 1,300 kids with a thousand volunteers. They plan to scale that next year to serving over 1,700 young people and expanding their volunteer base to meet this ambitious goal.
The platform also provides critical insights into parts of the program, including mental health and education improvements, that can be shared among team members and external stakeholders. This has helped the organization adapt to the needs of the children they serve based on easily reportable information. Through their outcomes work and Social Solutions’ reporting power, the organization learned that they are making impressive progress with positive impacts on children ages zero to five. Now they are focusing on reinvigorating their early childhood program based on data insights.
“The draw of Social Solutions’ software is that it’s robust. We were able to customize it and make it fit our exact needs because it’s flexible.”-MAEGAN MATTOCK, MSW, CHIEF PROGRAM OFFICER
Social Solutions empowers CASA of LA to recruit, vet efficiently and train volunteers to help more children in the community. When a volunteer is matched to a child, CASA of LA can now ensure that their supervisor can provide the highest level of support. In addition, they can quickly inquire about any missing pieces of information that might otherwise slow down the support process. CASA of LA volunteers use Social Solutions’ case management software to access case information, enter goals, take notes about their meetings with the child and communicate with social workers, attorneys and the CASA advocacy team. The advocacy team then reviews those notes and refers to them during volunteer check-ins.
During the next three years, CASA of LA plans to increase the number of volunteers they recruit and the number of children they serve to 3,000.
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