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Child Program Check-In: Becoming More Trauma-Informed

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — June 02, 2021
Things are moving along in the Child Program this month. We’re gearing up for our new Foster Care Pilot program. We’re creating a new standard way of screening children entering the Department of Social Services (DSS) for trauma. Our team is working with Davidson County on a new child welfare initiative. We’ve made it easier for kids to access community-based services. And we hit—exceeded—one of our Plan of Action goals.

Read on to learn more and to hear how one DSS liaison helped a Forsyth County teen avoid foster care.

Foster Care Pilot Helping Kids in Cabarrus, Forsyth, and Rockingham Counties

We’re creating a Foster Care Pilot to serve children involved with DSS. The program will help provide kids and caregivers with:
  • Trauma-informed education
  • Crisis support
  • Structured case management
It includes two levels of support: Support Team and High Fidelity Wraparound. Support Team is our new service model. It’s for children and teens who may not need High Fidelity Wraparound. We’ve also chosen two providers—Children’s Home Society and SPARC Services & Programs—to offer Support Team services.

Foster Care Pilot Goals

We want to see this pilot improve:
  • Caregivers’ confidence and skills in meeting their kids’ needs
  • Access to behavioral health care for children and families involved with DSS
  • Children’s placement stability
If the pilot is successful, we’ll expand this program to our other counties.

A Better Way to Assess Children

Trauma is common in children involved in the child welfare system. So, we’ve partnered to begin using a new process for children (four years and up) entering foster care. We’re making trauma screening a standard part of evaluation. Our partners include: We’re using an evidence-based screening tool developed by Project Broadcast. We’ll evaluate children through the Trauma-Informed Comprehensive Clinical Assessment (TICCA). The screening and TICCA results will help ensure each child is diagnosed correctly. A proper diagnosis helps us connect children to the right providers and services.

This two-year pilot also supports this training curriculum to encourage a more trauma-informed system.

Supporting the “Partnering for Excellence” Model in Davidson County

Benchmarks’ Partnering for Excellence (PFE) model was created to improve the lives of families involved in the child welfare system. It focuses on creating a more trauma-informed community. Specifically, this model centers on:
  • Early trauma screening
  • High-quality assessments
  • Connection to services
  • Trauma-informed and resiliency-focused training for providers and staff
  • A holistic service delivery approach
With Benchmarks’ guidance, Davidson County has outlined their plans and goals for using the PFE model. Cardinal Innovations will be actively supporting Davidson as they continue their PFE work this June.

Children Can Access Community-Based Services Faster

In our first Child Program update, we announced that we were changing the authorization process for non-innovations community-based child services. We wanted to make it easier for providers to get these services authorized. Our goal was to get children help faster.

We’re so excited to share that we’ve implemented this change. Children can start these services without getting prior authorization from us. Furthermore, providers don’t have to send extra documents to us to get an authorization.

We Exceeded One Plan of Action Goal

We surpassed our goal for processing treatment authorization requests (TARs). In the last week of April, all TARs for members in foster care were processed within three days.

What This Means to Members

When a child enters foster care, they’re assessed. Providers consider what services might benefit the child or family. Once they decide a child needs a service, they request approval from Cardinal Innovations. This request is called a TAR.

In the past, TARs sometimes took a while to process. However, we made it our goal to make the process faster. In fact, we wanted to complete almost all (95 percent) of TARs within three days. We hit and passed this goal in late April.

For families, this means providers will more quickly find out whether the treatment was approved. Faster TAR decisions mean children can begin needed services sooner.

DSS Liaison Spotlight

Moving forward, we’re going to highlight one DSS liaison success story each month. We do this to be more transparent with our communities. We want to share exactly how our liaisons are supporting children involved with DSS.

Connecting a Teen to Needed Care

In March, our Access Department connected Leah Spare, Forsyth County DSS liaison, to a frustrated parent, Alice.* Alice was struggling with her 17-year-old. She wanted to turn over custody to Forsyth County DSS. Leah called Alice to discuss her teen’s challenges one-on-one. They talked through possible services to support her family. Leah also let DSS know Alice might come to the office. When Alice did arrive at DSS, Leah spoke to both the mother and DSS. Together, DSS and Leah explained the process to get Alice’s child evaluated. The teen was assessed, and Leah made sure they were assigned a care coordinator. Now this care coordinator is connecting the teen to state-funded services they need. *Name changed to protect the individual’s privacy.

To Summarize

The Child Program team is always looking for ways to improve the experiences of our members. In summary:
  • We’ve created a new Foster Care Pilot to serve Cabarrus, Forsyth, and Rockingham counties.
  • We’re getting ready to use a new trauma-screening process for all kids entering foster care.
  • We’re supporting Davidson County as they implement the Partnering for Excellence (PFE) model.
  • We’ve made it faster and easier for children to access community-based services.
  • We’ve exceeded our goal to process TARs within three days.
  • We’re sharing one DSS liaison success story every month.
Our staff members, our community partners, our providers, and DSS have all helped make this month a great one for the Child Program.

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