Michigan child welfare agency is getting a much-needed tech updgrade | Michigan Radio

Michigan child welfare agency is getting a much-needed tech updgrade

Dec 29, 2019

Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is starting an overhaul of technology used by its child welfare system that critics say is long overdue.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is replacing the current Michigan Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System. 

JooYeun Chang is senior deputy director of the MDHHS Children’s Services Agency. She says the current computer system is difficult for child welfare workers to use.

“They spend an inordinate amount of time in front of a computer instead of with children and families.  That puts children and families at risk,” says Chang.

An attorney who’s sued the state over problems with the child welfare system says the agency’s tracking systems have been a problem for a long time.  

Samantha Bartosz is the deputy director for litigation with Children’s Rights. The group has sued the state over problems with its child welfare system.  

Bartosz says the state has been using antiquated computer technology.

“That’s your front windshield in the car that you can see where you’re going. And you can make course corrections,” says Bartosz. “You can determine where we need to apply energy and resources. Where we are doing OK. Without that, you’re driving in the blind.”

Bartosz says the upgrade is a good step, but more needs to be done.

The upgrade should take about three to five years to completely replace the old system.