Smarter Social Services

Social services caseworkers make dozens

of client-related decisions every day.

Some of them are literally life and death.

Yet today, governments face considerable challenges

Casework isn't integrated, legacy systems are everywhere,

budgets and revenues are shrinking;

experienced workers are retiring;

fraud, abuse and error are hard to detect;

and there's a growing expectation

for documented positive outcomes.

As a result, workers make inconsistent decisions,

service delivery is disjointed and uncoordinated,

and paper documents dominate.

Both service gaps and service duplication are abundant.

Organizations are swimming in data,

but at the same time,

they are information-poor.

Government agencies are very good at collecting data,

but the systems and processes intended to support staff

are hard-pressed to keep up with

the need for actionable information.

This means that the agency's understanding of what

is happening to individual clients

and the community in general can lag weeks,

or even months behind actual events.

Workers in the field are even more limited

in their access to information.

Unless they bring it with them,

they may not be able to get case notes or files

without returning to their office.

They cannot search case management systems,

update files, or learn about a client's prior history.

What if an organization had an integrated case management system

to provide a holistic view of the client?

A system that would allow a caseworker

– remotely by mobile device – to determine service eligibility

and initiate service delivery for any client by having

access to a total picture of their benefits and services.

Clients would become active participants in developing

their own service plan because, like the caseworker,

they can now easily access the information they need

– a holistic view of their own current and pending benefits.

And all of this can be done while maintaining data security,

and protecting the client's privacy and confidentiality.

By integrating disparate systems and coordinating

human service strategies, gaps in services can be closed

and redundancy can be eliminated.

Innovation that leads to improved services

and client outcomes is in.

Waste, error and fraud are out.

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The Client

From the client perspective, integrated casework means that

– rather than spending hours traveling from

one government office to another in search of assistance

– the client can go to any office to get almost everything they need,

because the case worker can access all of the

relevant information about the client.

And sometimes they don't need to go to any office.

They can receive help in their home,

their office, over the phone, or via the Internet.

Client access to information and assistance is the focus.

As such, clients can easily get information about their benefits,

learn about their options and pending status,

and understand how life-changes will affect their benefits.

"What if I begin to work twenty hours a week?"

"What if we get married?"

"What if I deliver twins?"

"What if my mother, who's a senior, moves in with us?"

Because unnecessary information silos are eliminated,

employees, departments, and even agencies

cooperate to the benefit of the client.

With their common view of the client,

they can speak with one voice to answer problems and questions.

With new business intelligence tools,

applications can be fast-tracked.

New applicants for services can quickly learn about

qualifying procedures, apply for benefits,

and quickly receive answers from the authority in charge.

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The Caseworker

From a caseworker perspective, access to information

where they need it, when they need it

means less time searching for and through paper files,

and less time traveling back and forth

between the field and the office.

Ultimately this all means improved benefits

and services for those in need.

With a complete view and information about the citizen

in one place, the social services professional can

ascertain income, medical condition, family status, employment,

criminal justice background, and other pertinent data.

They can also view the benefits and services

currently being received as well as prior history.

This makes enormous sense.

Many social services clients are involved

with more than one agency.

For example, food stamp recipients may

also receive financial or housing assistance.

With an integrated dashboard at caseworkers' fingertips,

a worker can see trends in services.

And agencies can share digital information more securely.

What can this framework do in practice?

It can anticipate changes in demand

for different types of services.

This also helps to eliminate duplication of benefits

and redundancies in data collection.

The same "what if" engine is available

to the case worker and the client.

So they can configure situations to predict

what might happen if benefits were combined in different ways,

or as life styles are amended.

Above all, it can make sure that people

aren't falling through the cracks.

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Business Intelligence

Social services are fueled by a passion

to serve a community - and data.

Any worker may need to determine if a client is eligible

for a particular benefit or program.

Data – both new and historical – collected about that client

can be used by a rules engine to determine if the client

meets the legislative and/or regulatory requirements

for receiving the benefit.

Again, business intelligence helps a social services organization

to determine services that will have the greatest

probability of achieving smart outcomes.

This may not sound like a significant issue, but it is.

Consider that legal requirements can be complex,

that clients may have prior histories that result in very long

case files residing in multiple programs and agencies,

and that new workers may not be completely versed

in eligibility requirements which can change frequently.

Other business intelligence tools can help detect fraud and error

by indentifying individuals who are receiving a benefit

under two different names, or identifying clients whose

circumstances have changed and whom, as a result, are no longer

eligible for a benefit or services.

All of this means that clients who need assistance

receive the help they are entitled to more quickly,

workers are able to access usable information to make

better informed decisions and, as a result,

they can spend more time working with the clients

who need their help the most.

And resources that are stretched thin

are used more effectively.

With smarter government, the people we serve and the people who serve them

can get access to information and services they need faster,

with fewer obstacles – helping to create a better citizen

to government relationship and more independence sooner.

Watch the video