For Agencies

The solution begins with communication.

 

Does your agency have improvement goals for foster parent retention, foster parent recruitment, support, documentation, communication, training, and teaming?  If so, you've just found a powerful tool and vital resource that will help your agency accomplish these goals.  (Download our brochure.)

 

I'd like to see a demo

 

A Brief Intro

First, let's get some common misunderstandings out of the way: 

  • FosterCare.Team is not a social network site. 
  • FosterCare.Team is not a public foster care support forum. 
  • Using FosterCare.Team is not a HIPAA violation.   
  • FosterCare.Team does not duplicate SACWIS functionality.  CCWIS rules allow for modularity so your agency can utilize FosterCare.Team.  

FosterCare.Team is web-based, team-centric, foster care collaboration software that improves foster parent support and increases the quality of care for children in foster care.  We leverage software created efficiencies to improve communication between every member of a foster care team, while maintaining absolute team privacy and security.  While your agency certainly has tools to help your internal team communicate, FosterCare.Team is a tool that extends outside of your agency, to all the members of a foster care team such as GALs, counselors, foster parents and birth parents.  By improving team communication, we improve foster parent support.  By improving foster parent support, the foster children see improved quality of care.  As an agency, you'll also find it easier to retain existing foster parents and recruit new ones because research has proven the most effective tool in recruiting new foster parents, is happy and supported existing foster parents.  (That's your licensors cheering in the background.)

Your agency needs FosterCare.Team

Why?  Because national surveys show that up to 60% of foster parents quit during the first year.  40% of them cite poor caseworker communication and perceived lack of support from the agency as their primary reasons.  Additional reasons include stress, inadequate training, and struggles dealing with grief and loss.  These are the primary reasons foster parents give for quitting and FosterCare.Team is built to effectively addresses every one of them.

 


Learn how we can help address foster parent turnover.


 

Collaboration software custom tailored for foster care

At many companies, the productivity benefits of collaboration software have long been apparent; easy, efficient communication with colleagues, increased opportunities for brainstorming with remote team members, and the ability to share content, files and other resources with anyone, anytime, anywhere.  Collaboration software has also been proven to increase transparency and lead to faster, more effective problem-solving.  That's why businesses spend billions of dollars every year on collaboration tools.  The problem is, until now, there wasn't a collaboration solution that was remotely close to a good fit for the foster care industry.  That's why we created FosterCare.Team.  If you think FosterCare.Team is only a tool that allows foster parents to communicate with their caseworker, then you aren't seeing the full picture.  We're a collaboration platform.  We allow everyone a foster care team to communicate with everyone else on the foster care team - easily and efficiently.  FosterCare.Team can deliver the same collaboration benefits realized by big businesses while being tailored to the unique requirements of your foster care teams (like child behavior tracking and alerts for abuse and neglect disclosures).  And when something is tailored specifically for you, the fit is always much better.

Will everyone see the files I upload and posts I make?

That's up to you.  We encourage people to share knowledge freely with the other members of their care team.  Yet, we recognize that sometimes a member of the team may have to post something extremely confidential that only they can see, or maybe only they and the caseworker can see.  FosterCare.Team allows for that.  All modules except the calendar module allow the poster to set the access privileges for whatever they are posting.  By default, the post is visible to the entire team.  Or, they can make the access level 'custom' and assign the specific people who are able to see the post, file, picture, note, etc..

Agency Structure

FosterCare.Team was designed from the ground up with your foster care agency in mind.  Relationships can be defined between caseworkers, supervisors, program managers and directors (or any of the custom roles you define for your agency).  Those higher up in the organizational chart can see team information and dashboard statistics for everyone assigned below them in the organizational chart.   In the example below, Caseworker 1 can only see their teams.  They cannot see team information for Caseworker 2's teams.  However, Supervisor 1 has access to both of their teams, but they do not have access to any of Supervisor 2's teams.  It's not shown below, but Program Managers can report to a Director.  The purpose of this structure is to silo the information and make sure only the people that need access to it, have it.  If you maintain these relationships in another system, talk to us about integration possibilities.

Organizational Chart within FosterCare.Team foster care software

 

Teams

Teams are the central point of our system.  All information is collected at the "team" level.  Teams are private and hidden and assigned to a specific agency.  You can only see the teams that you have been given access to.  You cannot search for other teams and ask to join them.  A person may have access to multiple teams under multiple caseworkers.  For example, from the graphic above, a counselor may have access to "Team B", "Team E" and "Team G".

The most common team is the "Managed Team".  This team is typically created by a caseworker.  It is usually a child-centric team; meaning the team members will include people directly working with a foster child.  These might be a licensor, counselor, GAL, foster parents and at some point, possibly an adoption worker.  It is at the caseworker's discretion on whom to invite to join the team.  All members of the team have access to the journal entries, discussions, photos, comments, files, etc. for their team.

Some of our agencies create what they call "support teams" and "professional teams".  These are different variations of a managed team.  The support team is intended for the foster parent to be able to journal and vent and not have to moderate their comments because of who is on the team.  The professional teams do not include the daily journals from the foster parents because the audience is different.  For example, the birth parents could be members of the professional team and not the support team.  For some agencies, the GAL may also be limited to this professional team.

The second type of team is a "Role-Based Team".  These are teams that existing users have automatic access to based on their role in the system.  For example, maybe your licensing group wants to create a team for "All Foster Parents".  All users with the role of 'Foster Parent' within the agency would automatically have access to this team.  

team types within FosterCare.Team foster care software

Training

Role-based teams are useful for quickly disseminating training material, articles of interest, important dates to remember, licensing information, shared files and embedded training videos.  Our Pages module even allows you to create your own web pages within your team.  The content editor makes it simple to add and edit content on these pages.

Who runs the team?

While a team is initially created by a caseworker or a licensor, the team runs itself.  For a standard foster care team, the majority of the information communicated will come from the foster parent.  Then other team members can respond and react to what was provided to the team by the foster parent.  Your agency is simply providing the tool that allows this communication and collaboration to flourish.

Isn't this extra work for our caseworkers?

No.  It actually saves them time by increasing their efficiency.  How is that possible if they have to read journal entries?  Good question.  Let's take this scenario: 

Let's say there is an issue with a child and the foster parents call the caseworker (it probably goes to voicemail).  They leave a message about an incident.  The caseworker has to call the foster parent back and may or may not reach them.  When they finally connect, the caseworker has to document what the foster parent says using whatever resource they have available at the time.  Then they need to re-enter this information as case notes into their case management system.  But wait, they should really get feedback from the therapist as well.  So they place a call to the therapist and leave another voicemail.  The therapist calls them back with questions.  The caseworker doesn’t have the answers so they have to reach back out to the foster parent who eventually responds to the caseworker who then relays that information back to the therapist.  Finally, the therapist responds with their feedback (over the phone of course) so the caseworker documents the portions they think are important and is able to load the therapist’s comments – well, some of them anyway – into the case notes.
 
Phew.  That is exhausting, it takes a lot of time and it is not efficient for anyone.  (And we wonder why caseworker turnover is 20% - 40% every year?)
 
Or, you could simply let the foster parent document everything in a journal entry when it's convenient for them.  The caseworker reads it when it's convenient for them.  The caseworker can copy and paste it into the case notes exactly as the foster parent spelled it out.  Done.  Easy Peasy.  If feedback is required from a therapist, it may already be there.  If not, just use our @mention ability to make sure the therapist sees the post.  The caseworker is then notified when the therapist responds and can copy and paste their response.
 
Again, simple.  Easy.  Efficient.  It is also more accurate because you have everyone saying everything in their own words.  There is zero chance of anyone misrepresenting what someone else has said.  Any clarification needed by the therapist can be handled between the therapist and the foster parent via the system so everyone can see it.  The amount of work a caseworker has to do is reduced to about 2 minutes total for the reading, sending the @mention, copying and pasting.  (Talk to us about the possibility of integrating with your case management system.)

We could go on and on with stories like this.  We're sure you can also.  It's time for caseworkers to stop being chasers of information and instead, let the information flow to them. 

Here's something else to consider: a caseworker can read 250 words per minute and can type 50.  They are 5 times more efficient at reading than they are at typing.  Wouldn't you rather have them reading and a copying the documentation provided by other members of the team?  At the same time, without any additional effort, FosterCare.Team is able to keep everyone on the team updated.

Where did I put that?

Another challenge caseworkers face is where to look for information.  The information presented to a caseworker can be spread across multiple communication channels: voicemail, email, fax, text message, instant message, face to face, second hand from someone else, etc..  Caseworkers have to comb through all of these communication channels, without forgetting or overlooking anything, to combine all of that information back into a single source document that only they see.  Or, you can use FosterCare.Team as the communication hub and collector of team information.  The caseworker now only has to check one source for complete information.  Also, having commonly requested files available to your team members mean they access them without needing to request them from the caseworker.

Reducing disruptions

FosterCare.Team can also reduce daily disruptions.  As one caseworker told us, "This is going to save me 2 hours a day!"  She went on to explain the almost daily calls she receives from a stressed out and struggling foster parent who, while she did have a challenging placement, also needed a place to vent. 

"With FosterCare.Team, I can have her journal everything she needs to communicate with me.  This will help her therapeutically and it won't lead to massive interruptions during my day.  I can work more effeciently, she can journal when it's convenient for her and I can read her journals and respond when it's convenient for me.  It's a Win/Win!"

Advanced warning system

As another caseworker put it, "I'd rather put out smoke than a raging house fire."  FosterCare.Team allows foster parents to provide their care team with essential details of their daily life which helps them provide interventions and get ahead of potential issues.  Our caseworker told us, "I know more about the needs of your foster children than I do of all my other foster children combined."  FosterCare.Team makes the caseworker more efficient and able to do a better job.  They are better informed and better able to support foster families and foster children. 

Who does what?

The task list keeps all of the team's tasks organized and visible.  Things are less likely to fall through the cracks and more likely to get done.  This reduces frustration, improves support and child welfare.

Good communication changes relationships

Without good communication, the relationship between a caseworker and foster parent becomes strained and could become adversarial.  This simply adds more stress for two people that certainly don't need it.  By simplifying the communication process and making it more efficient, we keep these relationships strong, collaborative and team-oriented.

But isn't this one more system our caseworkers will have to learn?

Yes, but we think it's pretty intuitive.  Also, one of the biggest reasons caseworkers love FosterCare.Team is because it helps them do their job better.  Caseworkers shouldn't have to be mind readers.  The ability to effectively support a foster parent is directly related to the foster parent’s ability to communicate their questions, concerns, and emotions.  By using FosterCare.Team, your agency is giving foster parents the tools needed to effectively communicate with their entire team.  FosterCare.Team helps caseworkers better support foster parents and provide the best care possible for their foster children.  It is also a very different system from what they are used to working with because FosterCare.Team focuses on the human element of their job.  As essential as the SACWIS system is, caseworkers did not enter this profession to key data into SACWIS.  They went into this profession to make a positive difference in the lives of foster children, foster parents, and families.  The primary purpose of FosterCare.Team is to help them realize this goal.  This is the side of the job that feeds their soul.

What do others think?

Counselors love it because it allows them to get a glimpse of the foster child in the foster home.  Reading the foster parents' journals helps them better prepare for the child's next therapy session.  They also love the behavior tracking abilities of FosterCare.Team.  This 'real-time' information helps them deliver a therapy session that is highly relevant to the foster child, meeting their most urgent needs.

Foster parents love FosterCare.Team because it helps them realize they aren't doing this alone.  Throughout our system, we track team member views.  This tells the foster parent who has read their journal entries, discussion posts and has seen the pictures they posted.  As a foster parent, I can't put into words how important it was for us to see that the members of our foster care team were reading our journal entries.  It meant they cared and they knew what we were going through.  It meant we weren't alone and often times, that is the most important message your team needs to communicate with the foster parents.  With FosterCare.Team, you can do it simply by reading.

GALs love it because it allows them to get to know the foster children before actually meeting them.  This completely changes the initial interaction between the foster children and their GAL.  For example, imagine two GALs serving two different foster children.  One walks in and introduces himself and asks the child how school is going.  They reply, "Fine" and that's it.  The other who has read the foster parent's journals walks in, introduces themselves and says, "I see you're taking gymnastics lessons.  That sounds like a lot of fun.  What can you tell me about it?"  For the next twenty minutes the child elaborates on everything that is going on in gymnastics, provides examples of tumbles and handstands and then talks about school, and recess, and lunch, and just keeps on talking.

I point out these examples out because this was our actual experience with our first two GALs.  One was before we started using FosterCare.Team and the other was after.  It completely changed the mood in the room, the child was at ease and the GAL was learning a lot about them in their own words.  This can also happen when new caseworkers are assigned.

Can you give me an example of how this improves support?

Sure.  How about one where the caseworker doesn’t have to do anything?  Here’s a real-life example.  One foster family was dealing with some significant bedtime behavior issues.  They opened a discussion topic about it on FosterCare.Team.  Within an hour, one of the children's counselors was able to reply with strategies.  An hour later, the other counselor was able to see the problem, see the first counselor's reply, elaborate on it and offer some additional insights and steps they should take.  Based on the discussion view history in FosterCare.Team, the foster parents knew their caseworker was in the loop so they didn't have to make a special email or call to her.  So at their next therapy session, instead of finally talking about the problem they had been dealing with for a week, they were able to talk about the solution they had been using for a week and how it worked.  Did you see what the caseworker and agency had to do to increase support for that foster family?  Nothing other than providing access to FosterCare.Team.   Shared support is a naturally occurring byproduct of team collaboration and it’s one aspect of the system that everyone appreciates.

Dashboard

The Agency dashboard is designed to give agency employees a summary view over all of the foster children, foster homes and foster parents they are responsible for.  This is an especially useful tool for supervisors.  The predictive analytics features of the dashboard allow agencies to quickly identify which foster children, foster parents, and foster homes are at the greatest need for support and greatest risk for a placement disruption.  The dashboard is also used to quickly answer questions like these:

  1. How many abuse and neglect disclosures where there last month and did the caseworkers follow up on them?
  2. Are my caseworkers reading the journal entries and discussion topics posted in their teams?
  3. Are my caseworkers interacting with members of the foster care team?
  4. Which foster children are really struggling with their placement?
  5. Which foster children have the most significant behavior needs?
  6. How are my foster parents doing?  Which ones need more support?
  7. How is the quality of life in the foster home?  Is it going well or is intervention needed?   
  8. Are my foster parents engaged and providing child welfare updates? 

What is HIPAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) requires certain companies and individuals to take steps to protect medical records and other types of sensitive information.  Under HIPAA, this information is called “protected health information” or “PHI” for short.  HIPAA prohibits disclosing PHI under some circumstances and requires people and companies who handle PHI to take certain steps to protect PHI.  For example, HIPAA requires electronic PHI to be “encrypted” when it is in transit.  While HIPAA restricts who can access PHI and when it can be disclosed, doctors, counselors, and social workers can communicate with foster parents and each other for treatment purposes without a signed authorization. (45 C.F.R. § 164.502(a)(1)) (2009).)

Additionally, covered entities may disclose health care information to individuals, parents, and other representatives, including persons who are acting in loco parentis (persons having the authority to act on behalf of the child in making health care decisions), without a signed authorization.  HIPAA defers to state law in defining who is an appropriate representative for a minor. (45 C.F.R. § 164.502(g)(3) (2009).)

HIPAA also gives patients, parents, foster parents and guardians certain rights with respect to their, or their children’s, PHI. PHI belongs to patients, parents or other legal guardians.  This means they can share their children's PHI with whoever they want, including FosterCare.Team.  We encourage everyone to be careful about sharing PHI and other sensitive information and, as you will see below, we take steps to make sure any PHI or information you share with us is safe and secure.  

Does HIPAA apply to FosterCare.Team?

HIPAA applies to “covered entities” and “business associates.”  Covered entities include hospitals, doctors, insurers and, sometimes, employers.  Business associates are entities that perform certain tasks for covered entities.  Business associates include lawyers, accountants, medical record companies and other entities that store or transmit PHI to and/or from covered entities. 

FosterCare.Team is not considered a covered entity or a business associate.  This is the assessment of multiple HIPAA attornies and multiple consulting firms that specializes in making companies HIPAA compliant.  FosteCare.Team is a private, pay to access site where professionals responsible for the care, well-being, and supervision of a foster child can upload information, including PHI, for viewing by other members of their private foster care team who are also responsible for the care, well-being, and supervision of the foster child.

Does FosterCare.Team still comply with HIPAA?

The short answer is, yes!  FosterCare.Team recognizes foster parents, guardians, caseworkers and others use our website to share sensitive information and sometimes PHI.  We want to make sure that information is safe and secure and viewed by people you have authorized to view it.  We also want our agency partners to feel comfortable working with us, so we take steps required by HIPAA to protect your information.  For example:

  • We use banking level encryption to secure information while it's in transit between your browser and our web server (and back).
  • The HTTPS security verification badge is displayed when you click the 'Log In' link to confirm there are no security issues.
    SSL
  • Our website requires a username (your email) and password for access.
  • Each user has a unique identifier within our system.
  • We monitor successful and unsuccessful logins.
  • We store your IP address when visiting our site, when attempting to log in and when you finally do log in.
  • Five failed login attempts within five minutes causes a temporary block on further login attempts.
  • Once inside the system, page views and downloaded files are logged by user ID.
  • After a period of inactivity, we will automatically log you out of the system.
  • Our server facility is secured with badged data center access requirements.
  • We do nightly server backups.
  • We have a disaster recovery plan in place.
  • Perpetual Security (we go above and beyond HIPAA requirements here)
    • Daily, automatic & rebootless kernel updates
    • Dual firewalls
    • Brute Force Defence against automated, high speed, password guessing
    • Virus Scanning
    • Malware protection
    • 24/7/365 Security Monitoring
  • All employees and contractors are HIPAA trained.
  • We have a privacy policy listed on our website.

Using FosterCare.Team is nothing like uploading information to a public social network site or even a file-sharing site.  It doesn't matter how cute, funny or amazing your journal or picture is, nothing you post on FosterCare.Team will go viral.  

Still concerned about HIPAA violations?

First, make sure you consult your HIPAA attorney for clarification.  Secondly, the catch-all is to have the birth parents (or a judge on their behalf) complete a HIPAA disclosure authorization form.  This ensures the people working with their children are allowed to share PHI.

Technical Specs

Under the hood, FosterCare.Team uses what is called a LAMP stack.   LAMP is an acronym of the names of its original four open-source components: the Linux operating system, the Apache HTTP Server, the MySQL relational database management system (RDBMS), and the PHP programming language.  Wikipedia is built upon a similar LAMP stack and utilizing this technology they process 50,000 page requests per second and 80,000 MySQL database queries per second.

Return on investment

$6,000 is the average cost it takes to recruit, license and train two foster parents.  Then they quit in less than a year and the time, effort and money you spent licensing and training them walks out the door. The cost for FosterCare.Team is $600 per caseworker per year. So if a single foster family is retained anytime within the next decade, the caseworker’s license cost has been covered. Any additional retentions over the next decade are positive returns for your agency and foster children.

If you're like most foster care agencies, you're losing between 30% - 60% of your foster parents every year.  According to the National Foster Parent Association, "as many as 60% of new foster parents quit in the first 12 months."  Ouch!  

We can help.  Let's start by understanding why these foster parents are leaving.  There are many reasons other than adoption that foster parents don't renew their licenses.  The National Foster Parent Association suggests that 40% of those families leave foster parenting primarily because of inadequate agency support.  Additional surveys reveal the biggest reasons include:

  • poor communication by the caseworker
  • struggling with feelings of grief and loss
  • inadequate training
  • being overwhelmed by the stress of parenting children who have suffered trauma

FosterCare.Team was designed to specifically address each of these turnover drivers.  When your foster parents are supported, your foster parents are happy, and happy foster parents are less likely to quit.  This means your highly trained assets will stay with your agency, gain experience, and work with you to meet the needs of your community's foster children.  Research also proves that happy foster parents are by far the most effective recruiters of new foster parents.  (That's your licensors cheering in the background again.)

Greatest asset is FosterCare.Team (foster care software)

Ready to get your agency on board?

You'll find our pricing is simple and flexible.  As you can see, the return on investment is there in dollars and many other ways you can't measure in dollars.

Sign me up! I like that ROI!

Still have questions?

There's more to see, including the modules for document sharing, task lists, calendars, and pages as well as how to set up an agency hierarchy and teams.  For more information, or to see a demo beyond what you find on our tutorial pages, please contact us using the link at the bottom of this page.

I'd like to see a demo