Integrated IT boosts OACAS case workers

Case workers at the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS) hope to have improved information sharing with the rollout of an integrated child welfare IT system.

“In the 53 Children’s Aid Societies across Ontario there are several major IT systems in use,” said Jeanette Lewis, executive director, OACAS. “The need for a common system has been identified repeatedly in the last eight to 10 years.”

Integration would facilitate reporting to government, the standardization of data, and promote seamless information exchange between children’s aid societies, she said.

The system is set to be piloted by OACAS in early 2007 in three agencies. If the pilot is successful it will be implemented province-wide with close to 4,500 case workers using it, said Lewis.

In addition to increasing their information sharing, it will also improve efficiency, according to Nancy Brown Andison, managing partner, Ontario Public Sector, IBM Canada.

“It is a specifically designed case management system for social services,” said Brown Andison. “It focuses on the needs of the type of information that case workers are tracking and recording, and has the ability to integrate financial information that the individual children’s aid society uses for their funding and allocation of spend.”

IBM is project lead responsible for the implementation for OACAS, with Dublin, Ireland-based Curam Software one of their team members, she said.

“Curam’s role is to provide the software for the solution that IBM will be implementing,” said Kimberley Williams, vice-president, global marketing, Curam.

The software for the OACAS project is Curam’s Business Application Suite, said Williams.

“The reason why I think (OACAS) ultimately went with the IBM/Curam solution is because in the past with siloed solutions they could not track children once they left specific jurisdictions,” she said. “The children were lost to the originating agency.”

She added that now regardless of where the child lives, they can continue to track and ultimately achieve the outcome they want, which is the safety, welfare and ongoing support.

“It would also be Web-based, so it would be portable in terms of them being able to access it in different spots rather than just at an office computer,” Lewis said. “We’re very excited about this Curam software and this opportunity because it’s been a long time coming and it’s something that the child welfare field in Ontario very badly needs.”

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