Aug 9, 2017 Press Release -- Child welfare service offices in five North Carolina counties started using technology this week in a pilot project that will contribute to improving the safety, permanency and well-being of children and families.
Part of NC FAST, North Carolina Families Accessing Services through Technology, the pilot standardizes data collection and reporting of child welfare services and outcomes. The new technology will also enable cross-county communication when families move across county lines, with the goal of better protecting the more than 11,000 children and youth in foster care and 125,000 children who receive Child Protective Services assessments each year.
Once the technology is optimized in the pilot counties of Guilford, Franklin, Richmond, Rockingham and Sampson counties, it will be rolled out statewide next year.
"This new technology solution will be a powerful tool for us to use to track and assure better outcomes for our children and their families," said Michael Becketts, DHHS Assistant Secretary for Human Services. "The new technology is part of a larger effort we are undertaking in partnership with our county department of social services and other stakeholders to improve child welfare services."
This technology reduces paperwork and automates county processes in a statewide repository. It also allows better collaboration between county Department of Social Services (DSS) case workers and social workers to improve human services and benefits delivery to the state’s most vulnerable population. Additionally, the technology enables collaboration among county DSS, service providers and families and accelerates processes and improves efficiency as data is shared among systems that support multiple health and human services programs.
"Leveraging this technology to standardize and improve processes is a critical step in tracking North Carolina’s foster children and in keeping them safer," said Sam Gibbs, Deputy Secretary for Technology and Operations at the N.C Department of Health and Human Services.
After the initial pilot, the next rollout of the new NC FAST technology is scheduled for Buncombe, Carteret, Catawba, Chatham, Cleveland, Orange and Rowan counties. Together with the pilot counties, these 12 counties worked with developers for more than a year in the design and development of the technology to ensure it will meet their needs.
"We’re grateful for the time and effort our colleagues from these counties put into making the system work," said Angela Taylor, Director of NC FAST.
Implementation of this program is expected to continue throughout 2018 to include all counties. NC FAST has supported county Departments of Social Services with Food and Nutrition Services since 2013 and with Medicaid, Special Assistance, TANF and Refugee Assistance since 2014.