Fri | Sep 22, 2017

CDA goes paperless

Published:Friday | August 18, 2017 | 8:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Junior Youth Minister Floyd Green tests the new Child Case Management System at the launch held at the Child Development Agency (CDA) headquarters earlier this week. Sharing in the moment are (from left) George Bowes, systems administrator, CDA; Cathy Deluca, manager, project integration at Avocette; Rosalee Gage-Grey, chief executive officer, CDA; and Scott Ross, CEO of Avocette. Seated beside Green is Rebecca Robinson, acting mission director of USAID Jamaica.

For the first time, the Child Development Agency (CDA) is one step closer to eradicating the use of paper files to track the development of children who come into their care. Instead, they will be able to access data through the new centralised Sohema - Child Case Management System, which is expected to provide efficient and easy services for the nation's children in state care.

Speaking at the launch earlier this week, head of the agency, Rosalee Gage-Grey, indicated that some of the issues expected to be addressed through the system will include improvement of employee and agency accountability, increas-ing the accuracy of client information records, minimis-ing duplication of data entry and streamline service delivery.

"Picture a paper-base system, where the child originates from Westmoreland but they are in a children's home in Kingston, the family is in Westmoreland as well. What happens now, the officer in Kingston will have to send to the officer in Westmoreland to find out about the family and to assess whether or not it is convenient for the child to go back home. With this new system, once the officer in Westmoreland uploads that information and I have to make that determination or a placement coordinator has to make that determination, all that information would be there," said Gage-Grey.

"All new cases are entered immediately but all legacy (old) cases, there is a team of temporary officers uploading those. I believe it's going to be a real game-changer in how we are able to manage."

...New centralised system to make job easier

Sheryl Hamilton, an investigator with the Child Development Agency (CDA), said she has encountered several challenges being in the field on a regular basis, noting that the new centralised, paperless Sohema - Child Case Management System, will go a far way in making her job easier.

"Investigations are very technical, so it's a lot of work that is done in the field. Most of the times officers don't have sufficient time to do paper work because we have to ensure that the child is protected and whatever you find out there, you have to make sure that you fix it and in fixing it, it takes a lot of your time," said Hamilton.

"There were some teething pains at first but I have decided that there is no looking back. In the past, when you pick up a case file and you go out to investigate, when you introduce yourself that you are from the CDA, people start quarrelling that somebody had already visited them because there were limited avenues to track what has been done. Now when you type the child's name on the system, it just pops up and avoids all of that."

- Harriet Middleton-Frith contributed to this story