10th Annual National Child Welfare IT Managers’ Meeting Touts Break Down of Silos

Deltek Analyst Amanda White reports.

This year’s 10th Annual National Child Welfare IT Managers’ IT Meeting was held May 23-26, 2011 at the Waterview Conference Hotel in Arlington, VA. A recurring theme during the conference was the need for silos in IT systems to be broken down. The idea is that in order for efficiencies to be increased through human service agencies, there must be a drive toward making systems interoperable. Since many children and families end up being eligible for more than one service such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and/or Medicaid, it is inevitable that the data from these systems will be shared. Breaking down the “silo environment” allows for better delivery of outcomes and services to clients.

Throughout the conference, much attention was also given to improving user experience (UE), not just for case workers and investigators, but for customers. How to combine multiple systems to prevent redundancies in data entry was also discussed. Director of Deloitte’s Child Services Practice, Kevin Bell, gave a presentation titled “Improving Accessibility and Mobility through Portals,” in which he mentioned that once an agency is in an independent program silo, it eliminates the opportunity to share data across programs. If the Web portal directs agencies into a silo and then forgets about them, it is not getting the job done. Instead, agencies must continue to be engaged. Some states have already leveraged this model for their program departments after experiencing intricacy with siloed infrastructure. For instance, Louisiana Chief Information Officer (CIO) Ed Driesse shared challenges he faced in his state. His perspective is that in times of difficulty, investments should be made in IT since it assures continued productivity. Driesse advised that systems should be highly accessible and promote transparency instead of silos. He explained that for Louisiana, the “way forward” was consolidating and concentrating on functions that are commodities to achieve optimization. With that, consolidation allows for standardization, economies of scale, and cost cutting. Driesse later revealed that Louisiana is considering moving to the cloud to increase efficiencies across agencies.

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