Magazine article Policy & Practice

Tennessee's New Child Welfare Tracking System Automates Case Management

Magazine article Policy & Practice

Tennessee's New Child Welfare Tracking System Automates Case Management

Article excerpt

In order to better serve Tennessee's Department of Children's Services in its transition to a more family-centric structure, the state has acquired a new tracking system to reflect its public child welfare reform and the type of casework the department is handling.

The Tennessee Family and Child Tracking System, or TFACTS, is the new statewide, automated case management system designed to support DCS's new practice model; it is meant to broaden system access, improve communications with community partners and providers, and improve overall management and quality of casework. It will also improve understanding of needs, improve case-note reporting, and allow integration with fiscal management functions.

The new system is a response to a changing workload, said Rob Johnson, communications director for the Tennessee Department of Children's Services. In recent years, DCS's practice model has changed its strategies for helping families and kids, and legacy systems, specifically TNKids, didn't support the new practice model.

"TNKids didn't provide the level of data and statistical analysis that matched their new work," Johnson said. "It was just time for a new system."

The transition also reflects the reevaluation of 26 different business processes and the need for more of a case management system rather than just a data management system, said Michael Bowie, executive director of the Tennessee Department of Children's Services.

"What we did was more of an internal process flow," Bowie said. "The biggest drive was that the system support the business model."

The system also had to be SACWIS-compliant (State Automated Child Welfare Information System) to earn federal funding for implementation and operational costs, meaning that it had to meet the needs of all state, local and private providers involved in child welfare case management; it is also required to be the lone system for case management activities, so as to create a centralized database warehouse.

The three-year project plan included training, policy development and an increased understanding of what it means to be a family-centric process, Bowie said. "We've really focused on the needs of the family as a unit rather than just the needs of the child," he said.

TFACTS was launched statewide in early September with the help of Dynamics Research Corp., a technology management service that has provided program solutions to a number of states. Tom Kelly, DRC's senior vice president and general manager for Systems Engineering and Information Technology, said this new system allows for all the information on any case across the state to be made available in a single, consolidated system. …

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