Nationally, the child support program impacts over 15 million children, with 1 in 5 benefiting from effective case management. In 2016, child support accounted for half the average income of low-income parents, and lifted three quarters of a million people out of poverty. All this, while remaining one of the most cost effective government programs, with $5.15 in support collected for every $1 spent. However, the Office of Child Support Enforcement, in their 2015-2019 Strategic Plan, acknowledges “the sobering fact that most state computer systems are obsolete, and a few are at risk of failure.”
The State of Idaho was no exception, with an aging child support case management system running on technology that was nearing the end of its life. This legacy system had a steep learning curve that limited holistic understanding, requiring involvement from various specialists in order to resolve issues. Few people had sufficient experience or training to handle all aspects of a case, so there were many handoffs from one staff member to another. These transitions delayed response times, increased the potential for errors, required more specialist work and decreased overall customer satisfaction. All this contributed to significant case backlog and worker fatigue.
GovWebworks has been working with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) for several years to enhance and upgrade mission critical systems. The department tasked us with modernizing Child Support Enforcement (CSE) as the state sought to sunset the aging infrastructure that supported the platform. The new, customer-focused case management system (Nexi) greatly improves the agency’s capacity and capabilities. Nexi also improves resolution times for open cases, while providing better access to system records, and streamlining management of cases for workers with different skill levels.
The goal of the state’s child support team is partnering with parents to help children by setting realistic orders, and minimizing friction in collection and payment. To this end, the new Nexi platform is a modern web application that supports the department’s case management specialists, supervisors and attorneys. In the future, it may also support functionality for parents to provide or review information.
The IDHW can now resolve issues and update their cases in a fraction of the time. Having access to real-time information not only improves resolution time and error on new cases, but has also supported clean up of legacy data, which had previously been much harder to maintain. Staff can quickly access relevant case information, from outstanding payments to information on other children or custodial parents. Review sections for financial records are available for staff to provide accurate, timely information to parents about payment or amounts owed. This makes day-to-day casework, and any case escalation, much easier.
As the new system has been rolled out, staff take part in shorter training sessions and are assigned new tasks as their competency grows. This means that they can be effective much sooner than users of the old system. Specific tasks can now be assigned by a supervisor, or can be generated automatically based on staff skill set, system events, or business rules. This new platform has caused a major shift in how the division now manages its workflow, with the new tools dramatically reducing training time and improving staff morale. These internal efficiency gains directly impact the mission of the CSE team, namely to work more closely with parents in support of their children and families.