Washington County, Penn., is using natural language processing (NLP) to both help child welfare caseworkers and connect families experiencing foster care.

The county has partnered with Augintel to use its NLP platform. In a press release, Augintel said its platform will help caseworkers “uncover critical information buried within narrative data such as case notes.”

The county explained that prior to this partnership, caseworkers would log into their legacy case management system, the Child Accounting and Profile System (CAPS), and spend a significant amount of time clicking on each individual note one-by-one to find certain information or come up to speed on a case. Washington County said that the legacy system made it “incredibly challenging” for caseworkers to access information such as family members, medications, previous services, or to understand case history and all the factors impacting the family’s ability to thrive.

“We are so excited to provide our staff with this tool that will save notable time, particularly as our staff are stretched thin juggling multiple roles at once,” said Anne Schlegel, director of Washington County Children and Youth Services. “It was such an easy decision for us to make. The time it took us from discovering the tool to implementation was minimal, and the integration with CAPS was simple. We hope to be on the forefront of helping bring this tool to other counties throughout the state, so they too can more easily access information that is deeply embedded across thousands of pages of case notes.”

The NLP platform will help caseworkers by quickly identifying service needs of families and reducing administrative burden on casework staff. The platform will also help caseworkers quickly understand a family’s case history and whether a natural support system is already available within a family. Initially, the county said the platform will be used to help caseworkers understand long standing risk factors, support family finding efforts, and present safety threats such as weapons not being properly stored in the home. The technology will also help child welfare leadership by allowing for real time quality assurance.

“We look forward to helping caseworkers and supervisors at Washington County use our NLP technology to address these longstanding problems related to documentation and case notes,” said Marty Elisco, CEO of Augintel. “Through this, we believe we will help them save time and make it easier to gain an understanding of the children and families they care for. As we work with more and more counties across Pennsylvania, we are excited to help each of them gain more value from the data they collect.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs