If you invest in something, you want to know more than whether or not the transaction went through – you want to know how it’s performing over time. Child welfare service providers also want to know how the families they serve improve over time, but these long-term details are nearly impossible to track with the systems currently in place.
In 2012, the legislature passed a bill that requires performance-based contracting (PBC) within child welfare. This means that services delivered to vulnerable children and families will be measured on whether they are moving the needle toward improving the lives of these children and families.
More recently, the state budget allocated funding to the Empire Health Foundation to create an entity that would take on the management of PBC in Eastern Washington – just the first step in taking PBC statewide. Empire Health Foundation created Family Impact Network (FIN) to take on this new role, which is slated to begin this summer. Naturally, as part of this new PBC model, there needs to be a technology and data collection system that can actually track outcomes for families. Since POC has a solid understanding of the child welfare system and has proven our data chops with the Washington State Child Well-Being Data Portal, we have been tasked to create this new technology solution.
Working closely with FIN over the last six months, POC has created Oliver – a new technology solution that will help child welfare (and eventually homeless youth/young adults!) social service providers better understand their collective impact and streamline very time-consuming business processes within their organizations – comprehensive data collection, workflow management, and data analytics and reporting. Spending less time within these areas lets providers spend more time with the clients they serve.
Oliver will start with an application to collect and report information on visitation between parents and their children in foster care, and eventually grow to be able to cover countless more services.
What does this mean for children and families? It means that services will be data-driven to better fit their needs. It means service providers will be able to spend more time with families rather than on paperwork. And it ultimately means there is a greater chance that the services will work so children and parents can conquer their challenges and stay together as healthy, happy families.
Stay tuned – we’re only just beginning and there will be more to come on Oliver in the upcoming months!