A New System for the Office of Child Welfare

A New System for the Office of Child Welfare

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Abstract

In a mid-sized U.S. county, children’s lives are lost and the local Office of Child Welfare finds its own information management practices to be implicated in the tragedy. Lucinda Angle, the county executive, is determined to improve the office’s information systems. She soon discovers that managing child welfare data also requires taking into account the data requirements and systems belonging to stakeholders at the state and federal levels as well. Angle and her senior staff issue a Request for Information (RFI) to seek ideas from software vendors on building a new system. After they do, Ana Carvajal, the new director of the Office of Child Welfare, is approached by her opposite numbers in the county’s substance use and juvenile justice offices, respectively, who both have data-related interests that intersect with those of her office. When the responses to the RFI arrive, Lucinda Angle must make hard decisions about the scope of the project and what company is best suited to carry it out. A year later, though, after a vendor has been chosen and has been building the first component of the new system, the project suddenly seem to be in danger of going off the rails. At the same time, Ana Carvajal discovers that software alone will not resolve the problem of collecting and maintaining the data necessary to ensure the safety of children under her office’s care.

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