Establishing Goals and Objectives for the Use of Technology
Goals and objectives should encompass the full range of options the agency wants to accomplish, but be incrementally scheduled for action based on set priorities. So that all program staff know what technology will be in place and when, technology staff should identify projects and activities in the pipeline. The goals and objectives of these technology initiatives should be clear and include:
Technology’s key initiatives should include the following:
Practicing Good Stewardship
When deciding on a technology solution for organizational challenges, consideration should be given to financial feasibility and necessity. Chasing after the most current and powerful technology can be futile given the speed at which technology changes, so solutions should be kept as simple as possible and centered on the objectives it was designed to meet.
Costs allowed should be directly related to the improvements in productivity and children, youth and families outcomes that the technology plan will produce. In all cases, children, youth and families’ rights to confidentiality should be protected. This requirement, however, can often be satisfied in various ways.
In recommending the purchase of new equipment, technology staff should know the costs and the time that should be invested to make the equipment fully operational and to maintain it, so that leadership can establish priorities for cost effect purchase and/or leasing equipment. Hardware and software languages don’t often change dramatically, so it may be cost effective to adapt new systems to those already developed rather than create a new one. Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products may offer cost effective emerging technologies for streamlining an older system to better meet current public child welfare technology needs.
Leasing may allow for updating systems and exchanging equipment that proves ineffective during implementation.
Using a non-standardized program language unknown to many may be cheaper up front but can become more expensive given learning curves and difficulties when adding compatible components or upgrades. If totally new technology is absolutely necessary, selecting mainstream technology will lead to longer lasting solutions and increase the chances for these new systems to interface well with the technology of other agencies.
Establishing Cross Sector and Inter-Agency Innovation and Integration to Foster Collaboration
Interfacing with other systems may also be a cost effective way to leverage agency capacity to access and/or acquire optimal technology. Fully integrated technology systems can ensure that courts, agencies and other social service providers are able to coordinate services within the network of helping agencies. In addition, searching for information about existing services and identifying complex eligibility criteria can take place quickly and along multiple access points.
But the issue here is not only one of technology systems capabilities. It is about changing mindsets and agency cultures with respect to turf, power, control and trust between agencies. Agency leaders should examine questions regarding ownership of data and the responsibility to preserve children, youth and families’ confidentiality. They, in turn, are responsible for directing technological data exchange. Managing potential conflicts is challenging but should not be insurmountable given the potential of improving casework and agency effectiveness.
enter data while it is fresh. All mobile devices should be encrypted to maintain confidentiality. Systems can be set up to suspend or hold each user’s session for a period of time in a way that allows the user to reconnect without losing data in case the connection is interrupted.
Creating and Sustaining a Robust Environment Capable of Meeting Federal, State and End User Requirements and Supporting Program and Policy Development
The entry, storage and accessibility of data in an automated system ease the administrative burden on all levels of staff and assists with program development and usage.
For exam p le , th e num ber and type o f fo ster hom es th a t are need in a specific geographic area to m eet th e needs o f th e population served can be autom a tic a lly tracked and used to gu id e recru itm ent e ffo rts.
Reducing System Down Time
Staff at all levels will have optimal access to the technological system.