Children’s Aid computer network upgrade faces delay

A centralized computer systems for Ontario’s Children’s Aid Society called for last year by a jury looking into the death of a five-year-old boy will not be operation until the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

The move to centralize the systems of 46 CAS offices across Ontario at a cost of $122 million was among the recommendations of a jury that heard in 2014 an inquest into the 2002 death by starvation of Jeffrey Baldwin. The child was placed in the custody of his grandparents by the Catholic Children’s Aid Society to give his problematic parents a break. Investigation revealed that in the east Toronto home of his grandparents, the boy and his older system were locked in bedroom, beaten repeatedly, forced to drink out of a toilet and live in their own feces.

The grandparents, Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman were convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2006.

The CCAS admitted that it failed to perform record checks on the grandparents who had prior convictions for assault on their own children. The Baldwin jury urged that a centralized computer system for Ontario’s CAS be in place by 2016.

A report by the Toronto Star indicated that of the 46 Children’s Aid societies in Ontario only those in Halton, Simcoe and Renfrew are on the centralized system known as the Child Protection Information Network (CPIN).

The other branches are not expected to be online until the 2019-2020 fiscal year. There are two phases to the system and the second phase is now out for tender.

Once fully operational, CPIN will allow Children’s Aid societies to securely share with one another confidential child protection information in order to improve and better manage case files and finances.

This is not the only major IT-related problem the provincial government if facing. In December last year Ontario’s $240 million Social Assistance Management Systems (SAMS), which went live the previous month, was reported to be plagued by glitches and design flaws.

At one point a malfunction caused the system to queue cheques for welfare and disability recipients which resulted in the overpayment of some people. The total amount overpaid was recorded at $20 million.

The two year time frame for CPIN recommended by the jury is not “realistic” because of the “magnitude” of the project and considering the millions of records that need to be transferred into the newer system, according to the spokesperson for Tracy MacCharles, minister of Children and Youth Services.

There were an average of 16,434 children in the care of the province each month during the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

The Toronto CAS has about 1,700 children in its care and staff members visit another 30,000 children in their homes.

Read the whole story here

Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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