Internet Explorer 11 is not supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.
Sponsor Content
What does this mean?

How to Modernize Child Welfare Case Management

Boy on a computer.
Child using a computer.

Modernizing child welfare case management technologies can help agencies ease their staff burdens while transforming vital public services.

Modernizing child welfare case management technologies can help agencies ease their staff burdens while transforming vital public services. Transformation starts in the field, where caseworkers collect the data that provides the bedrock for child welfare systems.

“It’s about bringing the right information to the right user at the right time,” says Richelle Mathieu, solutions consulting leader for state and local government with Pegasystems, which helps organizations automate and streamline complex manual processes.

An agency caseworker needs data access anytime, anywhere via a mobile device. An agency leader needs analytics data to guide strategies and improve efficiency. Courts need compliance data to ensure proper oversight. And everybody needs their data in a standard, simple-to-use format that aligns with their work processes.

A well-designed, cloud-based platform can propel this kind of transformation. What would it look like? A straightforward demonstration happened in 2020, when the U.S. Census Bureau collected data from American households via mobile technologies. Gone were the pencils and clipboards of previous decades.

“It was the first time that the people in the field collecting census data completed all aspects of their work on mobile devices,” Mathieu says. Using mobile technologies, census data collectors accepted assignments; plotted the most efficient order to visit households; submitted their hours; and securely recorded, encrypted and transmitted all the respondents’ information.

The results were phenomenal: Compared to 2010, the agency in 2020 saw nearly a 50 percent improvement in productivity, according to Mathieu.

At first glance, child welfare governance has little in common with a once-in-a-decade census. But they share a common principle: Technology transformation delivers higher productivity and a wealth of data insights. And caseworkers have more time to spend with the children and families they serve.


Modernized child welfare systems start with mobile devices in the field that replace paper-based data input. Standardized processes reduce the likelihood of human error. A virtual data layer delivers real-time insights to agency leadership. Caseworkers also have access to this data, ensuring they can answer client questions in real time.

The agency can use modern software to create a comprehensive child welfare portal with a unified user experience for all personnel. Agency staff can be trained to create input forms for specific kinds of user personas. A court clerk and a caseworker have different data requirements, so they will receive a user experience tailored to their specific workflows. The judge in family court can see the same data as the caseworker and clerk, but the presentation is customized to match their workflow.

When built on the right software platform, a modern child welfare system integrates easily with other agency systems to improve service delivery and expand data sharing. “People no longer have to experience the swivel-chair effect, where they’re always looking stuff up in one system and then looking at something else in another system,” says Ann Kelly, senior solution consultant with Pegasystems.

Such software also acknowledges the nuances of compliance and regulation. User interfaces can be configured to make sure system users stay compliant while entering and accessing sensitive data. Encryption can add an extra layer of privacy protection. This setup gives agency leaders a better handle on audits and other compliance issues, which can help with securing essential funding.


Agencies depend on data for reporting to meet legislative mandates. But the data in legacy systems isn’t always useful. Michael Yozzi, child welfare leader with Amazon Web Services (AWS), recalls a case in which the data and reality didn’t match. “One of the largest child welfare agencies in the country told me a story about filtering on dozens of foster homes for children with disabilities and only coming up with two results,” Yozzi says. “They knew they had more homes that met the criteria.”

Data helps agencies create reports to satisfy regulators and stay compliant, but the reports don’t necessarily help workers drive outcomes for children and families, Yozzi says. Modern cloud-based systems typically make it easier to pull data from multiple sources and generate analytics and actionable insights. And cloud service providers have tools to enable advanced data science capabilities like artificial intelligence and machine learning.


A robust, modern child welfare management system provides:

  • Offline capabilities so case managers can input data in areas without Internet access and update the system when connectivity returns 

  • Low-code applications that enable staff to develop apps quickly without advanced programming skills 

  • Real-time insights via a virtual data layer 

  • Prebuilt workflows and easy automation of manual, paper-based processes 

  • Portals offering a common interface for internal and external users 

  • Reliable, scalable and secure data storage and database migration support 

  • Permissions processes that are secure and easy to implement 

This article is excerpted from the new Governing issue brief, “Transforming Case Management for Child Welfare.” Click here to download the full paper. 
From Our Partners