Meet the E-SACWIS

The E-SACWIS, is the statewide information Child Welfare System of Georgia.

http://www.trademarkia.com/esacwis-78544736.html

By: SYSTEMS & METHODS, INC.
Computer software for the collection and disbursal of information and monies under the Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System; Electronic payment systems for the collection and disbursal of information and monies under the Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System; Computer project management services and computer application services for the collection and disbursal of information and monies under the Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System….

The Computerworld Honors Program
Honoring those who use Information Technology to benefit society
Final Copy of Case Study
LOCATION:
Atlanta, GA, US

YEAR:
2009

STATUS:
Laureate

CATEGORY:
Government

Technology Area:
Management of application development/performance and solutions delivery

ORGANIZATION:
Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Family and Children Services

ORGANIZATION URL:
http://dhr.georgia.gov/portal/site/DHR/

PROJECT NAME:
Georgia SHINES

Introductory Overview
The Georgia Department of Human Resources and the Division of Family and Children Services teamed with Accenture to develop and implement a robust, Web-based, statewide child welfare information system, called Georgia SHINES. The system was designed to integrate child welfare case management information into one system for DFCS case workers to more effectively manage, track, and share case information. Today, SHINES serves as a comprehensive case management support tool for the agencys more than 3,700 users. The project was designed to:

Improve efficiency and effectiveness by reducing paperwork and redundant data entry.
Improve access to information and tools to support consistent policy and practice standards across the state.
Facilitate timely and quality case decisions and actions by providing alerts and accurate information, including other agency programs and prior histories.
Provide consistent and accurate data management to improve reporting capabilities, accountability, workload distribution, and case review requirements.
Establish integrated payment processes and procedures for tracking services available and provided to children, and accurately paying for those services.

DFCS case managers spend considerable amounts of time in the field visiting clients as well as attending court and medical appointments, which results in the collection of large amounts of information. For years, case managers were serving children and families using a number of legacy systems and paper records. These practices resulted in inefficiencies such as duplicate data entry, conflicting data, and the need to wait for hard copies of case files to arrive via mail or fax. The dependency on a paper-intensive system also meant a greater administrative burden for case managers and hampered information sharing across county offices and between agencies.

Through SHINES, DFCS case managers now work with better quality data and can remotely access case files, reducing the need to complete tasks in the office. Additionally, case managers can complete major functional areas of their work, including intakes, investigations, placements, foster case eligibility determinations, reunifications, adoptions, financial management, resource management, and reporting. Moreover, by automating the application of policy and procedures, SHINES makes the application of policy less complex and easier to follow. It also streamlines the procedures for requesting and obtaining approval for service and payment authorization. SHINES also improves integration across related social services programs through automated interfaces with the courts, Medicaid eligibility, financial processes, and child support.

SHINES helps improve the lives of case workers, children, and community partners establishing a stronger foundation for improved child welfare outcomes. Case workers can work with greater efficiency and effectiveness, allowing them to spend more time working with families and children. DFCS is better equipped to monitor children under state supervision by:

Supporting quality decision making by allowing staff easier and timely access to case plans, histories, notes, and actions.
Improving tracking and data sharing across the state.
Helping case managers identify foster homes and community resources available to meet a childs needs.
Offering prompts and alerts when actions are due, enabling case managers and supervisors to manage cases more efficiently.
Providing instant access to comprehensive automated case files, minimizing delays in gathering information and providing services to children and families.

And, SHINES improves accountability to children and community partners by:

Enhancing communication and information sharing across county lines and with community partners.
Providing management visibility for case status, and online approvals of critical case actions.
Strengthening integration across related programs through automated interfaces with payment, eligibility, and court systems.
Providing opportunity for greater accuracy, transparency, and oversight into child welfare system through improved reporting and tracking capabilities.

The Importance of Technology
How did the technology you used contribute to this project and why was it important?
The Georgia SHINES system is based on a J2EE N-Tier platform. This technology was chosen and contributed to this project for its proven performance and reliability as well as its compatibility with the DFCSs other J2EE applications. Accenture brought extensive J2EE experience and strong alliance relationships with multiple platform vendors to implement the best-of-breed solution for the State of Georgia.

The technology solution was important because it delivered many benefits necessary for todays large-scale, statewide systems implementations. These benefits include:

Extensibility Enables ease of implementation of future system modifications as user requirements or policies change.
Portability Facilitates compatibility with multiple vendor platforms as each agency has its unique vendor needs.
Scalability The architecture provides multiple options to build additional capacity to manage increased user transactions as system volume requirements increase over time.
Reliability Provides failover at every tier of the system, in case of hardware, software, or other failure.

While the specific technologies selected for Georgia SHINES were important to deliver a reliable, portable, and scaleable solution, the fact that technology was applied to the business problem at all was probably the most important aspect of how technology was important for the project.

Prior to Georgia SHINES, many disparate systems supported functions used by case workers. The lack of integration allowed data to become inconsistent over time, with few controls in place to rectify the situation. Georgia SHINES requires alignment and consistency of data in order to support the business processes. The internal consistency is enforced through edits, and is supported by external services that exchange data with other impacted program areas to create a continuum of data supports that drive improved quality. This data consistency is the true impact of technology. A solid technical foundation with an integrated data support structure maximizes the value to the Department.

Benefits
Has your project helped those it was designed to help?
Yes

Has your project fundamentally changed how tasks are performed?
Yes

What new advantage or opportunity does your project provide to people?
SHINES helps DFCS case managers, and ultimately DFCS and The Georgia Department of Human Resources, work more effectively, provide better outcomes for children, and improve accountability to community stakeholders.

DFCS case managers spend considerable amounts of time in the field visiting clients as well as attending court and medical appointments, which results in the collection of large amounts of information. For years, case managers were serving children and families using a number of legacy systems and paper records. These practices resulted in inefficiencies such as duplicate data entry, conflicting data, and the need to wait for hard copies of case files to arrive via mail or fax. The dependency on a paper-intensive system also meant a greater administrative burden for case managers and hampered information sharing across county offices and between agencies.

Today, through SHINES, DFCS case managers work with better quality data and can remotely access case files, reducing the need to complete tasks in the office. Additionally, case managers can complete major functional areas of their work, including intakes, investigations, placements, foster case eligibility determinations, reunifications, adoptions, financial management, resource management, and reporting. Moreover, by automating the application of policy and procedures, SHINES makes the application of policy less complex and easier to follow. It also streamlines the procedures for requesting and obtaining approval for service and payment authorization. SHINES also improves integration across related social services programs through automated interfaces with the courts, Medicaid eligibility, financial processes, and child support.

SHINES helps improve the lives of case workers, children, and community partners establishing a stronger foundation for improved child welfare outcomes. Case workers can work with greater efficiency and effectiveness, allowing them to spend more time working with families and children.

If possible, include an example of how the project has benefited a specific individual, enterprise or organization. Please include personal quotes from individuals who have directly benefited from your work.
As a result of Georgia SHINES success, DHR has developed a video that showcases how SHINES helps case workers help families in need. Below are some of the key quotes from interviews conducted for that video.

we did have a lot of apprehensions about how it was going to work. And I have to say when we flipped the switch and we started going it was a non-event, it worked. So, were excited that it works, were excited to make the transition, and now were seeing the good thats coming from it.
Isabel Blanco, DFCS Director of Field Operations

Before SHINES was implemented, everything was self-reporting, so I had to rely on what my staff was telling me. Now I can hear what theyre telling me and I can see for sure.
Keisha Charleton, Case Worker Supervisor

I think Georgia will be much better off for the next Federal Review because of SHINES, because its a system that absolutely expects documentation before you can proceed. So, it, in my mind, it forces that discipline for the caseworkers to do what they wouldnt have done otherwise. And when they dont do the documentation, leadership cant tell where the cases are at. So, its not the most comfortable thing. It might not be the thing that most people say I love this about the system. But to me its absolutely essential. The old system allowed people to skip. This one doesnt.
Isabel Blanco, DFCS Director of Field Operations

… Once you put it in SHINES, its there for everybody to see. And its done almostits its immediate. Its right there, its its done right then. The financial people can open it up, look at it, see it right there. And its, you know, thats within a few seconds of it having been put in the system. So it saves a lot of time, makes things a lot more efficient.
Walker Solomon, DFCS Regional Director

I think SHINES has the ability to help prevent children from falling through the cracks. Specifically in situations where families change from county to county. We now have that transparency to be able track those families.
Glenda McMillian, DFCS Regional Director

Originality
Is it the first, the only, the best or the most effective application of its kind? Most effective

What are the exceptional aspects of your project?
While there are many statewide automated child welfare information systems (SACWIS) that have been developed over the years, we believe Georgia SHINES represents a new generation of solution, one that advances the goal of integration and supports strong case practice. Specifically, these key project and system features are exceptional:

Web/J2EE Georgia SHINES is fully Web based. This is a significant departure from the previous generation of client/server, mainframe, or Web front-end only solutions. The use of an open Web platform for the functions of SHINES means that it advances the architectural framework, eliminating legacy back-end processes, and even moving batch to J2EE application.
Web Services Georgia SHINES is the first application in the State to use service-oriented architecture (SOA) Web Services-based interfaces, bringing a new opportunity for data exchange and extensibility for the State.
Business Intelligence Current deployment of business intelligence is being leveraged to turn outcomes into actionstaking outcome measures and drilling them down to data that can drive future actions and thereby continue to improve outcomes. This includes Web-based reporting and integration with Blackberry devices.
Model Office Development leveraged a model office environment that was the test site, using a real operational office, for the application from pilot through final implementation.
Single Case View Integration across multiple sources of case data begins to integrate a single case view of integrated data. This reduces the chances for data duplication and improves the ability for case managers to view consistent case data.

Difficulty
What were the most important obstacles that had to be overcome in order for your work to be successful? Technical problems? Resources? Expertise? Organizational problems?
There were several key obstacles to overcome that resulted in a successful implementation of Georgia SHINES:

Organizational Distrust Due to the multiple failed attempts to implement various technical solutions, the biggest obstacle was that staff did not believe that SHINES would happen. We overcame that resistance by finishing things on schedule, disseminating frequent communications, and maintaining momentum throughout implementation.
Conversion Bringing data from multiple systems, all of which had missing components, was a real challenge. We had to set realistic expectations, provide support tools for post-implementation, and carefully monitor data corrections to overcome the data quality issues.
Governance The governance structure was identified as a key barrier to previous attempts. Governance was carefully structured from the Governor to the Agency in such a way that tight control was provided to maintain focus on risk mitigation and rapid issue resolution.
Priority Balance Due to pent-up demand for a system, there were a large number of requirements for the system. Early on, it was determined that implementation was the key goal, not perfection. This operating principle allowed the team to maintain momentum, while also meeting the key objectives for the Department.

Often the most innovative projects encounter the greatest resistance when they are originally proposed. If you had to fight for approval or funding, please provide a summary of the objections you faced and how you overcame them.
Georgia SHINES was taken up by the Governor as a top initiative for the State. Once that priority was set, the process to gain approval took some time, but made steady progress. Legislative resistance was focused on the past failures, and were mitigated through changing how the project was managed and governed. This included new management and a governance process directed by the Governor’s Chief of Staff and the State CIO.

Success
Has your project achieved or exceeded its goals?
Achieved

Is it fully operational? Yes

How do you see your project’s innovation benefiting other applications, organizations, or global communities?
From a Georgia perspective, Georgia SHINES represents the most successful IT application program in the last four years. The Governor, Sonny Perdue, said that this was mission critical, and now that it is completed it is a role model for other projects to follow. Georgia SHINES is the first, large-scale, Web-based, mission-critical system implemented in Georgia. It was the first to deploy Web Services at scale. It begins to establish a common infrastructure for human services in Georgia.

Georgia SHINES, as one of the most recent implementations of a SACWIS program in the country, is now a key reference for other states seeking the same innovations. Several states have visited, many more have communicated their issues and have looked for our guidance, based on our successes and challenges we have overcome. Georgia SHINES will impact the future of child welfare support systems in the United States.

How quickly has your targeted audience of users embraced your innovation? Or, how rapidly do you predict they will?
Georgia SHINES is a foundation for operational excellence. The Department is undergoing significant changes as it seeks to refine its practice model and achieve federal and state outcomes. With that backdrop, Georgia SHINES has been adopted successfully in the field. There are gaps, there are exceptions, but there are tools and system supports in place to help manage those issues, and they are visiblewhich is criticalbefore they were not.

We see continued improvement in how the field has embraced the innovative solution. We have high usage as measured by log-ins and concurrent users, and we have continued reduction in exceptions. The change journey is not over, but we have seen regions and counties fully embrace Georgia SHINES and improve their outcomeswe know the system can provide the benefit, but it takes strong practice and a strong, innovative solution. We work closely with field operations to continue to support, and advance, both.

Digital/Visual Materials
The Program welcomes nominees to submit digital and visual images with their Case Study. We are currently only accepting .gif, .jpg and .xls files that are 1MB or smaller. The submission of these materials is not required; however, please note that a maximum of three files will be accepted per nominee. These files will be added to the end of your Case Study and will be labeled as “Appendix 1”, “Appendix 2” or “Appendix 3.” Finally, feel free to reference these images in the text of your Case Study by specifically referring to them as “Appendix 1”, “Appendix 2” or “Appendix 3.”

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About gacoalition4childprotectionreform1

For the past 10 years I have been researching family law, constitutional law dealing with deprivation and DFCS/CPS. While I am not a lawyer, I am a special family rights law Advocate; advocating families who have been disrupted by the department of family and children services.
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