Federal Funding for Truly 21st Century Technology

Posted July 17, 2014
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog federalfundingfor21stctech 2014

Recent devel­op­ments in fed­er­al fund­ing for mod­ern tech­nolo­gies could lead to extra­or­di­nary oppor­tu­ni­ties in child wel­fare.

Last month, the Admin­is­tra­tion for Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies (ACF) at the U.S. Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices award­ed the state of Indi­ana one of the first-ever waivers as part of an inno­v­a­tive pro­gram instruc­tion that paved the way for states to adopt mod­ern, cloud-based and com­mer­cial off-the-shelf (COTS) soft­ware to sup­port child wel­fare agencies.

This piv­otal devel­op­ment enables Indi­ana to request fed­er­al fund­ing for key costs of Case­book (devel­oped by our grantee, Case Com­mons), which is a core com­po­nent of the state’s child wel­fare tech­nol­o­gy plat­form, the Man­age­ment Gate­way for Indi­ana’s Kids (MaGIK).

The waiv­er comes about a year after ACF released an impor­tant pro­gram instruc­tion (ACF-OA-PI-1301) in June 2013. The pro­gram sub­stan­tial­ly expand­ed the oppor­tu­ni­ty for states to receive fed­er­al fund­ing when adopt­ing COTS soft­ware by detail­ing a process for states to receive a waiv­er of reg­u­la­tions con­cern­ing pro­pri­etary software.

We are delight­ed that Indi­ana received one of the first-ever fed­er­al waivers under this pro­gram instruc­tion, ben­e­fit­ing MaGIK, Indiana’s state-of-the-art child wel­fare solu­tion that includes Case­book as a core com­po­nent,” said Charles Simon, gen­er­al coun­sel and direc­tor of pol­i­cy at Case Com­mons. This deci­sion is an excit­ing step by ACF and a pow­er­ful exam­ple to oth­er states of what’s pos­si­ble when it comes to fed­er­al fund­ing for mod­ern technologies.”

Indi­ana is now eli­gi­ble to request fed­er­al fund­ing for key costs of Case­book through the sub­mis­sion of an advance plan­ning document.

Case Com­mons had a unique under­stand­ing of the child wel­fare area. They’ve tru­ly been a part­ner,” said Paul Baltzell, Indiana’s chief infor­ma­tion offi­cer. They were able to adapt to our needs to achieve a suc­cess­ful deliv­ery of the sys­tem. Long-term, future capa­bil­i­ties in the sys­tem will allow us to have a high­er lev­el of success.”

Of course, every appli­ca­tion for fed­er­al fund­ing is unique. How­ev­er, as oth­er states seek to lever­age fed­er­al sup­port to adopt cloud-based and COTS tech­nol­o­gy, this waiv­er oppor­tu­ni­ty has the poten­tial to allow states to mea­sur­ably improve the qual­i­ty of ser­vice and out­comes for chil­dren and fam­i­lies — like­ly at a much low­er cost.

At Case Com­mons, we believe that tech­nol­o­gy will nec­es­sar­i­ly be at the cen­ter of any mean­ing­ful effort to improve the effec­tive­ness and effi­cien­cy of child wel­fare agen­cies,” said Kath­leen Feely, vice pres­i­dent for inno­va­tion at the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion and chief exec­u­tive offi­cer at Case Com­mons. Tru­ly 21st cen­tu­ry tech­nol­o­gy, includ­ing advanced ana­lyt­ics, can enhance both day-to-day deci­sion mak­ing and long-term pol­i­cy. States have the pow­er to rev­o­lu­tion­ize how they pur­sue the best pos­si­ble out­comes for vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren and families.”

ACF’s will­ing­ness to grant waivers can play a key role in assist­ing states in access­ing 21st cen­tu­ry tech­nol­o­gy to ensure their child wel­fare agen­cies are well-equipped to pro­tect those most in need and help them thrive.

We invite child wel­fare agen­cies across the coun­try to take a look at this ground­break­ing deci­sion and con­sid­er how to use tech­nol­o­gy to best serve your state’s chil­dren and fam­i­lies. For more infor­ma­tion, please vis­it Case Com­mons at casec​om​mons​.org.

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