Automating Your Foster Child Record Keeping

All that paperwork can be an absolute drag. I mentally tell myself I flat refuse to fill it out if it takes me more effort than it should (and then I fill it out). I don’t like ridiculousness. However, I also respect the rules/requests I get from my caseworker(s). So, compromise. Make technology do as much of it for you and require you to input all the right info so you don’t have to think about it or wonder if you remembered everything.

Essentials

1. A smart phone. I’m an Apple person, so this will be geared for iPhone and Macs.

2. DayOne App. (And if you really love it, grab the desktop version too) It’s a couple bucks. And worth way more. If you don’t like DayOne, Evernote is a good option and can do much the same things. Both are journaling / note-taking apps and very easy to use.

3. Launch Center Pro App. It’s also a couple bucks. And also worth way more. It works with Evernote and DayOne on iDevices. You can do without it, but it makes things available in one-click and does all the heavy lifting for you, and you end up with complete and consistently formatted documentation.

4. Dropbox App. This is an essential for storing all your DayOne entries. It’s free up to a certain amount of storage, and you can earn more free storage as you go.

For each Child, do this

Inside DayOne, you’ll want to create a “Tag” for each child. A “Tag” is similar to a folder, except that you can have multiple tags per entry, so think of it as different ways to slice and dice your data. Obvious ways might include per child, all foster placement initial info pages, etc.

To do this, Open DayOne and create a separate entry for each of your child’s basic info: Name, DOB, Placement Date, Caseworker Contact Info, etc. Include a picture of the child if you’d like. Then tag it with a new tag with their name “johnny appleseed”. I recommend prefixing the tag with something short yet will help you know it is a foster kid. I would also add a second tag called “foster placements” that you only use for these “new kiddo” types of entries.

The tag with the child’s name will allow you to pull up all the things you have notated about that child. On the desktop version of DayOne, I can pull up a tag and pdf all the entries with that tag and email them to a case worker in about 15 seconds.

The tag for “foster placements” will bring up all the initial kid information you have kept over the years. For me, I like looking back and remembering the kids that have stayed in my home and saying a quick prayer over their lives and current living situation and future. It reminds me that we do make a difference, even if it is a short placement, and reminds me that even though they are not in my home currently, they need every prayer that can possibly be offered over them.

Now, for all the other stuff we’re supposed to track once the kiddo is in your care:

1. Medication Logs

2. Contact Logs

3. Accident Reports

4. the list goes on…you know the drill.

Invest a little time to get your workflow down and it can be easy to give case workers and what-nots all the documentation they require without as much overhead on your part.

The inspiration for this came from Ben Tsai’s Coffee Time logging (you can install it to Launch Pad Pro from here if you find it useful as well!).

Here is an example of a Launch Center link to walk me through creating a contact log.

dayone://post?entry=%23contactlog%20%23[list:Child|JohnnyAppleseed|SaraPeachpit|JaneySmitherson]%0A%0A%7CContact Log%7C%7C%0A%7C%3A---%7C%3A---%7C%0A%7CType%20Of%20Contact%7C[list:Type of Contact|In Person|Phone Call|Letter|Home Visit|Court|E-mail|Social Media|Other]%7C%0A%7CWith%20Whom%7C[list:Contact Type|DHS Worker|Parent|Doctor|Dentist|Therapist|Haircut|WIC|SoonerStart|Agency Worker]%7C%0A%7CContact%20Name%7C[prompt:Contact Name?]%7C%0A%0A%23%23Summary%2FNotes%2FResults%0A%0A[prompt:Summary/Notes/Results?]%7C%0A

Translation of all the % signs and strange number codes:

  • %20 = space
  • %23 = #
  • %0A = new line
  • %7C = |
  • %3A = :
  • %2F = /

A couple of caveats:  The entry is being tagged using hashtags. Don’t think Twitter here, think Tag names. There is an option in your preferences/settings for DayOne that allows you to turn on converting hashtags to real tags. Turn that on. The above will be tagged with the Child’s name (no spaces allowed for a tag assigned using a hashtag) and a tag indicating it is a contact log.

The Payoff…

1. Saves you time! Why write stuff when you can do the same thing in about 5 clicks and have it automatically date, time, and location stamped?

2. Is ALWAYS Accessible and Syncs automagically to all your devices! Your phone (or iPad or computer) is always with you. Your paper files are not.

3. You don’t have to remember to do it later…just do it when things happen and be done with it.

4. Easy Peesy to send stuff to a case worker. Just be careful that you don’t share with someone inappropriately.

5. Automating the questions to answer makes you fill out everything as desired but let you put one-click choices as the answers so you don’t have to write it all out.

Want some help getting it setup?

Leave a comment or email me!

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