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Government can work when there’s sufficient will to let it

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Florida’s much-maligned child welfare workers will soon begin carrying handheld devices, like the ones delivery companies use to track packages, that show whether they really are checking in on the children under their supervision…

Child welfare workers currently record home visits on paper forms, then type the information into a state database. That can take up to 60 days, Crist said…

Workers will test the devices, but Crist already has recommended $10 million in the next fiscal year’s budget to provide them statewide.

If you read the article, the devicies are being characterized as a move to make state workers more accountable… which they certainly will. But it will also move case management into the latter half of the last century. Talk to any case manager in state employ (not just in the child welfare services, but anywhere) and ask them if they’d rather enter their notes directly into the system as they go in the field, or record them twice… once on a paper form, and again on their computer. They’ll all tell you it would (and will) free up invaluable time that could (and will) be spent in the field… rather than sitting in their office with a stack of paper. It’s a no brainer, and it’s something the state could have done a long time ago if our legislature wasn’t pinching every short-sighted penny; or if there was some political will to implement smart, albeit initially costly, business practices.

Just off the top of my head I can think of several agencies that should be able to do the same thing… starting with probation officers supervising relatively high-risk offenders (like sex offenders).

For every (sometimes exaggerated) anecdote about government waste, there’s a state employee a few hundred state employees working with 19th 17th century technology (paper and pencil), or a computer system that was designed during the Carter Administration.

All I can say is it’s about freakin’ time.

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  1. or even better, when I was a child welfare worker, we didnt have our own computers. we dictated notes into hand held tape recorders then a secretary typed them for us..I miss the dark ages

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