In Berks County, the Department of Children and Youth Services (CYS) works to protect children, assure their physical and emotional well-being, and ensures them timely permanency. When children are brought to the attention of CYS, they are evaluated for any possible maltreatment, truancy, neglect, etc. and appropriate actions are taken during the course of an assessment/investigation. All cases are recorded to ensure the safety of a child, whether a child is able to remain at home with services and case management, or be placed by the Juvenile Court in a foster or adoptive home to assure their safety.
The department had been using a highly customized, purpose-built application to manage CYS’ operations and case records. However, CYS’ IT team wanted to move to a web-based system that would be more accessible to employees and staff, and lessen their dependency on their legacy hardware platform. The main features CYS wanted were to integrate the custom functionalities created for their existing system, as well as a seamless interface with Pennsylvania’s Child Welfare Information Solution (CWIS). Most importantly, CYS wanted to automate some of the processes to allow staff to spend less time on paperwork and more on helping children and families.
After a thorough consultation on CYS’ needs and wants, the County and Weidenhammer jointly decided on Microsoft as the platform for the solution. Microsoft could be leveraged to connect with CWIS seamlessly to allow staff to share referrals, outcomes, case notes, risk assessments, and other information as needed. It could also report on when submissions were received by CWIS or if there were any errors in the submission process to ensure all outcomes for children were submitted timely.
Custom modules made it possible to easily prepare for quarterly state and federal reporting, as well as tracking caseloads and caseworkers. Additionally, all data could be migrated to a Microsoft SQL server to improve storage capacity and security. By removing much of the manual processes and reporting, it freed CYS staff to spend more face-to-face time with families and children to better ensure safety, well-being and permanency.
Moving to a web-based application gave staff more flexibility in their daily responsibilities. Rather than needing to conduct repetitive manual tasks, those processes were replaced with automated workflows. The change led to increased productivity while making it easier for managers to track cases and respond quickly. A fiscal portal for invoicing also eased manual staff time needed to accomplish tasks and led to more fiscal efficiencies. The additional reporting features helped leadership see from a higher view, from a case management perspective, as well as a budgetary and operations perspective.