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Innovation ​​​​
Our Kids partners with Microsoft to improve insight into case information
With new program requirements and increasing workloads, Our Kids needed a central system to help its 100-person staff manage its cases. When evaluating possible technology solutions, Our Kids knew it needed to consolidate three systems into one. In addition, because of the sensitive nature of client information, Our Kids sought a solution that could offer integration with their existing Microsoft technology and strong data security at a low cost.
Now called Safe Haven, the Dynamics CRM solution for Our Kids provides a cohesive, instant view of each child’s information from a variety of portals, including schools, juvenile justice organizations, and medical and legal entities. Moving forward, Our Kids plans to use the advanced data analytics provided through Dynamics CRM to identify signs of potential child abuse earlier than its previous system allowed.
OK Connect revolutionizes how we protect children
The 2008 OK Connect Project provided Case Managers with Smart Phones that made them mobile, accountable and safe. The Smart Phones are used to verify the time, date and location of every case visit with  a foster child.
In a survey several months after the project launch, the Case Managers gave the project an 88% approval rating.
Through OK Connect, Our Kids deployed 250 encrypted, lightweight, rugged laptops and 250 tethered, encrypted smartphones  allowing for ubiquitous internet connectivity, email, a camera and a telephone. Because of the success of OK Connect, Our Kids has been featured in numerous local, state and national media.  In 2010, Florida’s Governor  authorized $6.3 million to replicate the solution across the State of Florida, stating, “We have a duty to do everything humanly possible to protect Florida’s children.”
ASK Case Management Imaging System transforms case management
Our Kids improves operating efficiency by capturing and distributing electronic images of case 
files to the appropriate group(s) within the organization.
At the project’s start in 2008, Our Kids had approximately 2,800 active cases, containing approximately 3.5 million pages. The project initiative was designed to move toward a paperless operation by converting all existing and new case  paper documents to electronic format.
Challenges of a Paper-Based Process:  The need to access critical files at a moments notice is the primary reason for keeping them on-site and in paper form.  The case management process is a highly paper intensive operation. Case  workers review and update paper based files on a routine basis in performance of their duties. These updates are delivered by the case worker, in hard copy form to one of six “hubs” and then added to a case file by Our Kids personnel. Case workers are constantly  on the move. They are either at the office or in court all day, visiting families in the evenings and on weekends, and responding to emergency calls at all hours. All while traveling site to site updating case files and Court generated documents for a wide  array of entities, their own agencies and co-workers. This meant that case workers were having to physically access, update and manage reams of paper to effectively perform their job. 
Key Areas of Improvement / Results
  •  Ensure instant and continuous access
    • Our Kids is able to provide case workers with 24/7 remote access to crucial case files about the children in their care.
  • Increase case folder content and quality
    • Our Kids now has the comfort level to know that documents reside in the correct case file – every time.
    • Reduce case worker turn-over and increase job satisfaction and productivity
    • Following implementation of the imaging system and distribution of laptops with wireless cards a satisfaction survey of all case workers showed an 88% approval rating.
      Audit Trails & Security
    • Our Kids has seen a 75% reduction in the amount of time it takes to prepare for an audit and an increase in “folder” content quality during audits.
  • Disaster Preparedness & Recovery
    • Implement a system to ensure case integrity and access to case files in case of an environmental impact or disaster.
  • Reporting & Case Worker Accountability
    • Ability to have real-time reporting metrics on the number of documents entering the system, types of documents and triggers for documents that have yet to enter the system.
  • Budget Reduction
    • Our Kids has experienced a financial savings in terms of money and time, by reducing printing - as much as 90%, they have also seen a reduction in filing and storage costs.
Our Kids selected as partner to participate in innovative program to help “Crossover” Youth.
It's part of a growing effort nationwide to deal with "crossover" youth, one of the newest buzzwords in social  service and juvenile justice circles. The term refers to children or teenagers who cross over from the child welfare system to the juvenile delinquency system. They are already known to county social services because of abuse, neglect, domestic violence or  mental health issues.
Research has shown that kids in the child welfare system are about 50% more likely to enter the juvenile justice  system, said Miriam Aroni Krinsky, a lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Affairs.
"When they do, what we tend to see is they get arrested at younger ages. They tend to be treated more harshly,"  Krinsky said.
With funding from the non-profit Casey Family Programs, created a model for how counties can better  deal with crossover youth. A county creates a team that includes a family court judge, law enforcement, prosecutors, schools, community corrections and human services. They develop policies for identifying crossover youth, intervening early and working together  to prevent them from ending up in more serious trouble.
For counties, there's a financial incentive to reducing the number of children who end up being removed from  their home and placed in a group home or detention facility. Out-of-home placement is one of the biggest costs for county social service agencies.

Our Kids adopts the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI).

The Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) is one of Florida's approaches to strengthening foster care,  including kinship care, using branding and marketing principles. It is a process designed to help a site develop new strategies and practices, rather than imposing upon it a predetermined set of "best practices." Our core premise is that the primary goal of  the child welfare system is to ensure that children have effective, loving parenting. The best way to achieve this goal is to enable the child's own parents to care for him or her. If that isn't possible, the system must ensure that the foster or relative  family caring for the child provides the loving, committed, skilled care that the child needs, while working effectively with the system to reach the child's long term goals.
QPI recognizes that the traditional foster care "brand" is has negative connotations and this deters  families from participating. QPI is an effort to rebrand foster care, not simply by changing a logo or an advertisement, but by changing the core elements underlying the brand. When these changes are accomplished, QPI sites are better able to develop communication  materials and to design recruitment training and retention systems for foster parents. The key elements of the QPI process are:   To define the expectations of caregivers; To clearly articulate these expectations; and then To align the system so that those goals can become a reality.
The major successes of the project have been in systems change and improved relationships. Sites have  also reported measurable improvement in outcomes such as:   Reduced unplanned placement changes; Reduced use of group care; Reduced numbers of sibling separation: and More successful improvements in reunification.

Young Parents Project

Our Kids is partnering with FSU Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy to provide court-involved young mothers and their children with intensive home visitation that targets the overall health and developmental needs. Skilled professional staff offers care coordination and outreach including intensive clinical services supporting mother child relationship development, and the development of a safe and nurturing home, early screening, referrals, and intervention. YPP supports positive life changes for these complex young families to stop the intergenerational cycle of poverty, court involvement and early parenting. The first year of the YPP program demonstrated a significant increase in the percentage of children in full custody of their parents increased from 14.3% to 63.2%. Additionally, the program produced a reduction in low birth weight babies, improved health care utilization and a decrease in subsequent births.

Electronic Information Exchange: Elements that Matter for Children in Foster Care

The Children's partnership, 2013, by Beth Morrow. Our Kids Protected on Follow my child Electronic Medical Passport.  

First Health Fair for our young adult former foster youth

On April 1, 2013, Our Kids hosted our first Health Fair for our young adult former foster youth. We had about 200 clients attend these all day events in 3 areas of the county (simultaneous events in South Dade, downtown and North Dade). The event was timed to coincide with our clients’ monthly case management review with our staff. Young adults that attended were able to receive free services such as consultations with professionals about health, safety, a free physical exam, STD screenings, vision screenings and education about a number of physical and behavioral health issues facing our kids. We partnered with the University of Miami and a variety of clinics and healthcare providers who enjoyed working with our kids. Staff were on-hand to check the state’s ACCESS Medicaid databases to ensure each client’s insurance was up to date or if there were issues, staff helped resolve them.