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Appendix C – Onondaga Department of Social Services

Background


Over the last two years, NYS OCFS, the LDSS, and the state legislature provided funding to deploy and test the use of mobile technologies in Child Protective Services (CPS) work. In April 2007, Onondaga County Department of Social Services submitted a mobile technology proposal and was awarded funding to deploy laptops in CPS work. As a result, on November 19, 2007, 56 Dell Latitude D620 laptops were distributed to 40 caseworkers and 10 managers. Six laptops were also shared on a rotating basis among night service staff.

Following this deployment in November 2007, an initial assessment of the use of laptops in CPS work took place. The initial assessment examined how mobile technology affects CPS caseworker productivity, mobility, and satisfaction. This extended assessment examined similar questions over an eight-month period, longer than the time period in the initial assessment.

District context and deployment

At the time of data collection, Onondaga County DSS had 56 CPS staff responsible for child protective services. Located in Central New York, Onondaga County has approximately 458,000 residents. The county has a land area of about 790 square miles and has one major city. Onondaga County DSS submitted a mobile technology proposal to OCFS stating that they wanted to learn if connected laptops would provide caseworkers with more opportunities to stay in the field (i.e., reducing travel time returning to the office), and to provide supervisors with more immediate information on case-related issues. In addition, Onondaga’s proposal also identified high caseloads and high numbers of overdue safety assessments as two important drivers for testing mobile technologies.

The district-provided external broadband cards were distributed and all access to the state network (i.e., to access the central database) was through a virtual private network (VPN) that secured the transmission to and from the laptop and the network. The district also provided a one hour and fifteen minute small group training session which covered: (1) orientation to the initiative, (2) orientation to the equipment, (3) local guidelines, and (4) initialization of individual IDs, and setup of broadband and VPN access. Each participant received a small training packet at the end of the session for future reference.

In this profile

This profile is specific to Onondaga County and brings together the most comprehensive data on the two data collection periods as well as findings on use, mobility, productivity, and satisfaction.