Casebook's Unique Features Garnering Attention and Awards

Posted December 21, 2015
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog casebookgarnersawards 2015

This is the last in a four-part series about Case­book, a state-of-the-art tool to help child wel­fare work­ers track and improve results for chil­dren in their care. This install­ment looks at the suc­cess­es of the Case­book team in bring­ing the plat­form to market.

Part 4: Accomplishments

Case­book can be accessed from any com­put­er or mobile device, and it allows child wel­fare case­work­ers to cap­ture all of the data required as part of the Adop­tion and Fos­ter Care Analy­sis and Report­ing Sys­tem and the Nation­al Child Abuse and Neglect Data Sys­tem. But it goes well beyond just doc­u­ment­ing cas­es to include, among oth­er features:

  • A view of fam­i­lies and cas­es to help case­work­ers and super­vi­sors under­stand his­to­ry and con­text quickly;
  • Graph­ic visu­al­iza­tions to help users see” fam­i­ly net­works and man­age com­plex relationships;
  • Sup­port for vir­tu­al case col­lab­o­ra­tion to reduce phone and trav­el time, min­i­mize data loss and encour­age infor­ma­tion sharing;
  • Alerts, noti­fi­ca­tions and progress sta­tus indi­ca­tors that help keep case man­age­ment efforts on track;
  • A place­ment-match­ing tool that helps case­work­ers place chil­dren in care in the most appro­pri­ate set­ting and family;
  • Access to dash­board met­rics that help case­work­ers pri­or­i­tize their work based on real-time data and allow super­vi­sors to effec­tive­ly man­age their teams; and
  • Exten­sive resources for self-guid­ed online help, as well as hands-on con­sul­ta­tion with Case Com­mons staff to imple­ment the sys­tem and work through issues.

Two hall­marks of the sys­tem are iter­a­tion” — a process to con­tin­u­al­ly eval­u­ate, fore­cast for changes and allow for improve­ments — and user-cen­tered design. When Case­book was intro­duced in Indi­ana, the Case Com­mons team shad­owed peo­ple in the child wel­fare sys­tem so that we could under­stand the day-to-day behav­ior of the end users,” notes Nicole Tec­co Reese, chief prod­uct offi­cer at Case Com­mons. This was a very dif­fer­ent way of devel­op­ing tech­nol­o­gy in the gov­ern­ment sector.”

In the time that Case­book has become avail­able, only two oth­er states, Michi­gan and Delaware, have pro­cured new child wel­fare tech­nol­o­gy sys­tems, both using main­stream lega­cy sys­tem providers. In both states, these sys­tems have been cost­ly and plagued by glitch­es and delays.

The fact that Case­book even was built and today sup­ports the Depart­ment of Child Ser­vices in Indi­ana is a major suc­cess,” notes Heather West­on, chief oper­at­ing offi­cer at Case Com­mons. It wasn’t easy, but we demon­strat­ed that you can have a tool that can serve the needs of front­line work­ers, cap­ture high­er qual­i­ty data, pro­vide lead­ers with what they need to make bet­ter deci­sions and do it in way that is more effi­cient.” Case Com­mons also has made it eas­i­er for states to invest in Case­book in mod­ules, rather than com­mit­ting to the whole sys­tem immediately.

Nego­ti­a­tions are under­way in oth­er states inter­est­ed in reap­ing Casebook’s ben­e­fits, and two pres­ti­gious awards have bol­stered its vis­i­bil­i­ty. Case­book land­ed a UX Mag­a­zine Design for Expe­ri­ence award — tak­ing the podi­um along­side out­fits like Airbnb, BBC Live and Cit­rix — in the pub­lic sec­tor cat­e­go­ry. And Case Com­mons received an inau­gur­al Code for Amer­i­ca tech­nol­o­gy award as one of a dozen nation­al orga­ni­za­tions help­ing to use mod­ern tech­nol­o­gy to improve gov­ern­ment services.

The appetite in states to use ana­lyt­ics to dri­ve results is quite sig­nif­i­cant,” says Steve Gold­smith, Daniel Paul Pro­fes­sor at Har­vard University’s Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment. The for­mer Indi­anapo­lis may­or writes and presents fre­quent­ly for state and local offi­cials on the val­ue of data ana­lyt­ics — and specif­i­cal­ly Casebook’s model—in governance.

With a staff of just 50, Case Com­mons runs a lean oper­a­tion that fos­ters flex­i­bil­i­ty and inno­va­tion. But it has been chal­leng­ing, notes Charles Simon, Case Com­mons gen­er­al coun­sel and direc­tor of pol­i­cy, when the oth­er play­ers are incred­i­bly large multi­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions with lots of name recog­ni­tion and cred­i­bil­i­ty.” How­ev­er, Case Com­mons’ exper­tise in child wel­fare — built in part on the Casey Foundation’s 25 years of work to spur child wel­fare reform — has paved the way for pos­si­ble col­lab­o­ra­tion with oth­er tech­nol­o­gy providers.

Our hope is that we might fun­da­men­tal­ly change the mar­ket so not just Case­book but oth­er prod­ucts will be devel­oped to bet­ter serve this mar­ket,” says Tec­co Reese.

In Indi­ana, the ulti­mate pay­off is help­ing kids. You have a [state] gov­ern­ment agency that under­stands the impor­tance of pro­tect­ing chil­dren at the high­est lev­el, you have vision­ary peo­ple who want it to be as good as it can be, and a nev­er end­ing process of improve­ment,” says Jane Bis­bee, deputy direc­tor of field oper­a­tions for the depart­ment of child ser­vices. You are hedg­ing your bet that your out­comes for chil­dren are going to be better.”

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