How Automation Could Be Used to Improve Child Adoption Processes

improve foster to adoption process

As the holiday season is now upon us, one government process that I particularly spend time thinking about is called the “placement” process. More specifically, my mind tends to think about the placement of a child in an adopted home and the adoption process. During my time working in state government, I was lucky to see how the adoption process could be drastically sped up by applying improvements throughout the entire process. The process of domestic adoption is very similar in the United States (U.S.) and municipal governments throughout the world.

typical child adoption process united states

Being a civil servant to me means that I cannot personally accept how long this process takes. From start to successfully matching a child with a family and finalizing adoption, the process can take years. One example of improvement from the State of New York was Office of Children and Family Services’ Office of Agency Performance Improvement (OAPI) department, which was awarded for its work to speed up the cycle time for the adoption agency authorization process. The team reduced the process by more than a year—from 730 days to the current average of 255 days.

To be able to reduce the time it takes to authorize agencies to assist with adoptions from more than two years to less than one year shows the opportunity for further improvement.

There are many problems from start to finish with adoption processes. The adoption process is plagued by tons of paperwork which require you to enter the same information, multiple times, in many different forms and systems.

There are issues with matching the right child to the right home. That part of the adoption process requires numerous assessments and home studies. But the schedule for those studies are often backlogged, which leaves many kids waiting to be with their potential new family. If the child is lucky enough to make it to the final stages of the adoption process, they are usually waiting on court systems to complete their process (including delays from the courts own calendaring processes). So much time wasted in the life of a child, who will only have the chance to be a child once!

But how long is too long? For me, I want a system where we can get adoptions done in one day! In my mind, I don’t want a child to miss another holiday with a family, or another birthday, or a new start to the school year. At Thanksgiving, I will be pondering that I know my fellow civil servants do not think that 18 months for an adoption is ok. Nor is six months.

My goal is to make sure everyone knows how quickly we can fix this process for all the kids out there that aren’t in a permanent home yet. I seek a process that is life changing for these kids. Maybe we'll never get to one day for an adoption, but it’s worth trying for because even if we cut the time in half, we have still been successful.

How can we fix the current processes?

The first action would be to streamline the paperwork using automation. With an automation platform like UiPath, you can easily create a common form that populates all the other forms currently required. Many states have a central portal for people wanting to start their own business where all the needed state agency forms are populated and processed in one session, minimizing the need to fill out multiple forms, or visit agency websites separately. Imagine having a central portal for adoption and foster care that integrated adoption agencies, state and local governments, and the courts.

The second action would be to stop talking about how we are going to modernize old platforms related to adoptions and foster care and automate now. No child should have to wait three to five years for a modernized system when we could modernize now with automation. All the forms created during the adoption application process could be ‘read’ via automation. The data could still enter into existing legacy systems, but software automation can be used to integrate legacy systems.

The third action would be to incorporate automation and software robots into the court system to automate things like calendaring or to speed up the courts’ time needed to process paperwork and complete proceedings. Tools like UiPath Process Mining and UiPath Task Mining identify the processes that are the best candidates for automation.

If I was running a state agency again, what would I do right now to improve adoption processes?

I would:

  1. Do a pipeline feasibility and process discovery session to look at the top opportunities for automation related to adoptions right now

  2. Use UiPath Task Mining and Process Mining to start discovering areas ripe for automation

  3. Utilize tools like UiPath Automation Hub to solicit ideas from my employees to speed up the process

  4. Update my strategic plan and commit to cutting time for adoptions in half this year by automating parts of the adoption process

I believe the best way to motivate adoption and placement staff right now is to commit to the cause of helping kids in foster homes get to their adopted homes successfully and faster. Children’s limited time as children shouldn’t be wasted worrying if they are going to be part of a new family next week, next month, or next year.

When I sit at Thanksgiving this year, I will be thankful for the fact that I have an opportunity to make it my legacy to reduce the time for a successful adoption by helping workers in this field know the power of UiPath and how we can help you right now.

I know what it’s like to work in government: you never have enough people, you don’t have enough funding, and you're usually using legacy technology. With UiPath, those challenges can be overcome, and together we can commit to a long relationship that will help your mission.

Why not change the world right now?

See how government agencies are addressing their biggest challenges with automation.

don horan uipath
Don Horan

(previously) Government Senior Industry Practice Director, UiPath

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