Golden_GOVIT Innovation Award Spotlight

Jim Daugherty, Department of Child & Family Services, State of Illinois

Recipient of the ‘Innovation’ Golden GOVIT Category

Project Name: “Team Youth App – Child Welfare Solution”

An App leveraging Microsoft Teams to help Case Workers connect in a more connected way with the Youth in the Child Welfare System

Read updates on the Team Youth App – Child Welfare Solution and thoughts on the future from Jim:

How have you made this app more efficient since December 2020?
  • The app has been made more operationalized.
  • Teams are more easily created and maintained.
  • Acquiring data on the number of text, voice and video chats per team is maturing. The Data Analytics teams is currently working on mapping these figures to outcomes such as permanent placement of a youth back with the biological parents or in an adoption.
One of the challenges for this app is simply getting this technology into the hands of youth. How have you engaged other organizations to help solve this challenge?

Other organizations have not been engaged awaiting the operationalization of the tool. The app has been place in more user’s hands such as Foster Parents to allow younger youth to benefit from the app.

Can you speak on the success of this program, and how that success is determined (KPI’s)?

During the pilot the success of the app has been determined through interviewing users. The feedback has been very positive. As an example, a new case worker (approximately 1 year as a social worker) has achieved permanency with 6 youth in 6 to 9 months. The average in Illinois is 3 to 3.5 years. The social worker and the supervisor attribute much of this success to the app. Another example is the incredible joy biological parents receive when being able to see early steps, first words, etc. because of the ease for foster parents to contact a biological parent.

How has working amidst a Pandemic shifted your role and your outlook in your industry?

Child Welfare has always been about the people, youth, social workers, service providers, friends and families. The connections between people and the ability to collaborate are the drivers to achieve a safe and healthy environment for youth. With the significantly decreased ability to meet in person due to the pandemic, technology has been extremely important in filling the gap. One silver lining of the pandemic for Child Welfare has been the realization that many of the tools created / leveraged during the pandemic have shown high value going forward after the pandemic.

Personally, what are you looking forward to most when the Pandemic restrictions are lifted (personally)?
I look forward to being able to travel more freely.