The Liberal government spent a minimum of $182 million dollars on a computer Case Management system. It was installed and it went live on April 1st. The previous software was thirty years old and by every assessment was antiquated and inadequate. One would think that with the criticism that has been directed at the Ministry of Children and Family Development alleging incompetence and poor case management for countless reasons, that the promised change would be precisely that which is needed right now. Wrong!
It is a system after all. It was not specifically designed for MCFD or for Child Welfare case management for that matter. Oh, Oh! Since it’s inauguration design flaws have been immediately encountered and flagged and implementation flaws have frustrated front-line social workers and in some cases overwhelmed them. Social workers were given almost no time to learn this computerized system which appears to be more complicated than anyone imagined. E-Learning was prescribed as the model by which social workers could educate themselves but not with time off to accommodate that responsibility. Rather, they were to fit this duty into their busy schedules. This is inadequate. Further, there were only 17 online training modules which is woefully insufficient.
By all reports these glitches are not the expected anomalies of a new system but rather there are fundamental flaws with both design and implementation. Over 2000 social workers are campaigning to have the government scrap this new system and begin again. It is allegedly responsible already for some high risk incidents. Reports have been received that work loads have actually increased for workers with regard to certain aspects of their jobs. Social workers have left work distraught and in tears. The Children’s Deputy Minister, Stephen Brown is promising to work on improvements by the end of summer. He denies that the system is worse than what the Ministry used before and expresses not knowledge of safety-related incidents. But he does admit that he has heard from staff who are stressed by the software and training provisions.