Social Work, Artificial Intelligence and Child Welfare – an Ongoing Scan of the Literature

Last week, while at the Exponential Medicine conference (full download to follow soon), I heard about the involvement of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in U.S. child welfare practice. This was new to me – I wondered why I hadn’t heard more about it.

I immediately went to a colleague who I knew was very active in this space, Dr. Melanie Sage, and asked her if she knew about use of AI in this way. She had a great many resources, ideas and connections in this area. Together we put together a resource list and annotated bibliography for scholars, teachers, community members, and students might be interested in (Melanie’s contributions are based on her scholarly work in this area, mine are based on never-ending curiosity and my futures activity). We both believe we’d like to see more social workers getting curious, getting creative and applying their knowledge, values and skills as social workers to make sure these approaches are used with the highest ethical dimension possible. In truth, there is no indication that artificial intelligence is going away – and all signs point to greater expansion with these tools. We are literally watching the path being built while we walk on it. We both agreed we’d like that building process to be one informed by the literature – so here’s a place to start.

Where and how can tools like artificial intelligence be used to support positive outcomes for families and children in the child welfare system? What are the risks and potential complications that could interfere with our good intentions? We are just beginning to find out. There are opportunities to truly revolutionize outcomes for the better – developing analytic capabilities we have never had before using information in all new ways to improve our practice. And there are risks to use of these tools that are also covered in the literature and well-documented. Come learn with us and let’s use technology to make a better world.

Want an overview of the fundamentals of AI? Check out a previous blog post covering the basics!

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