New Technology Guidelines in Child Welfare: What’s an Agency to Do?

On Point4 minutes readApr 7th, 2016

The next generation of Child Welfare technology was announced on August 11, 2015 by the Department of Health & Human Services (for details refer to CCWIS, see 80 FR 48199, August, 11, 2015). At the heart of the proposed regulations is a greater emphasis on data exchanges, management, storage, quality and security. The proposed CCWIS (Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System) framework will allow state systems (Tribal / State Automated Child Welfare Information System) to obtain data from external sources and systems, including providers and other agencies, and provide data to external agencies and other government programs.

That said, CCWIS is optional and it’s left to the state agencies to determine which concepts to adopt and how best to transition to their desired future state. However, a closer reading of the proposed legislation suggests that the decision to opt in or opt out will need prior consent and at the risk of losing relevant funding for certain projects built on CCWIS.

It has never been about the technology. What is important is addressing the pain points, business needs and how to improve outcomes. What the new CCWIS regulations are trying to ensure is that technology does not inhibit the business in the open exchange of information across departments and agencies to promote better outcomes for children.

How does it work? An agency’s technology solutions should not be designed around reporting data elements to Federal control agencies. When you stop designing for a single program and realize you need to support your workers in the performance of their service for citizens, you open possibilities to new, innovative ways to use technology. Such solutions are person-based, leverage-able and functionally aligned so that they support the various activities that EVERY citizen-centric program needs to support. .

For example; a mother can have more than one child with more than one person. She can be on probation or parole. There can be an older person in the home receiving adult protective or other aging services. There can be a teen who is part of a child welfare case and also a juvenile justice case. Supporting workers to support people means:

  • Your agency collects data once and makes it available to authorized users wherever and whenever it’s needed. Including other departments or agencies;
  • Your agency can take in all types of data; text, pictures, video, etc.
  • Your agency can provide service anywhere, anytime;
  • Your agency can engage citizens in whatever way they want to receive services: in person, on the phone, or online.

Based on the ACF (Administration for Children and Families) proposal, federal child welfare systems oversight would move away from the “single comprehensive system” approach in favor of an approach more closely aligned with other Health and Human Services (HHS) programs. The new approach emphasizes modularity, reusability, shareability, and interoperable technology.

Deriving insights using analytics: At the heart of this approach is a solution capable of managing the large amount of information required to coordinate case services across multiple programs and agencies. This enhanced focus on data exchanges and data quality will allow Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies to begin to truly break down programmatic and systems siloes, and not only engage in better client service, but also begin to use predictive analytics to provide better services to the children and families who need them the most. The SACWIS program in Florida State adopted Eckerd’s Rapid Safety Feedback (ERSF) and had tremendous success decreasing the number of child fatalities. The Florida SACWIS system (the state child welfare data system) had limitations in its ability to provide real-time data. Therefore, Eckerd contracted with Mindshare, its child welfare technology partner, to provide system overlay software that produces real-time data and agency performance dashboards.

In the future, we can replicate this success story across the SACWIS systems (which may eventually adopt CCWIS) across the US and thereby saving tax dollars at all levels of government, delivering better citizen services and – most importantly – saving people’s lives.

For more information about our solutions, visit our website.

Tags-   Child Welfare Health and Human Services Regulatory Policy