DCo Social Services Usage of Predictive Analytics
In Durham County—and nationally—the number of children in foster care is consistently and sharply increasing. In September 2013, there were 142 juveniles in the custody of the Durham County Department of Social Services, and almost doubled five years later. This impacts critical points within the system including caseworkers, foster caregivers and other items tied to County budget and resources.
The business challenge faced by Durham County is to predict the number of children who will need help. This will allow the County to adjust these critical resources in advance to better match resources necessary to smoothly provide high-quality services to address fundamental needs–education, physical, mental health, safety and well-being—while establishing a permanent plan for the care of the child.
Meeting the Challenge
Durham County DSS implemented a set of predictive analysis model testing analytical tools including Microsoft PowerBI and Microsoft Excel, while using other tools—Microsoft OneDrive and ClearPoint Strategy–for data entry and file sharing. After carefully preparing and managing the data—data was used from 2003 forward and needed to be reworked into a standard format–the analysis and reporting were performed using PowerBI and Excel. The final model was produced in Excel.
Today, data-modeled reports are being used to enable Durham County Government to prepare using fact-based, analytical predictions, versus estimates based on opinions.
Here is a summary of findings:
- Durham County DSS has predicted that there will be 432 children in foster care custody in 2025. This measure is critical to enable the department to assess and determine allocated resources needed to effectively serve children in care and meet state performance measures for permanence and safety.
- This means that there for every 1,000 children living in Durham County – 5.2 of them will be in foster care custody. The state caseload ratio for Foster Care is 15 foster care cases per worker.
- Now, at the end FY19—3rd quarter, we have 23 full time equivalents (FTEs) or caseworkers for Foster Care.
- In order to meet the state caseload ratio standard in 2025 with the predicted 432 children, we would need to add at least 6 FTEs to the Foster Care (Permanency Planning) program area.
Having this kind of information available is invaluable to planning for the future. We can be more strategic in our adjustments to the number of caseworkers, foster caregivers and other items tied to County budget and resources.