New York City child services gives new tablet computers to all child abuse investigators

Brooklyn Bridge in NYC, USA.

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The New York City Administration for Children’s Services announced Tuesday that more than 2,000 of its caseworkers will start using new tablet computers and software in all child abuse investigations.

The Microsoft Surface Pro tablets being given to all frontline child-protective staff are equipped with new software which will allow workers to access the state’s child-welfare database in the field, according to an agency press release. The newly implemented technology will give caseworkers easy and immediate access to critical documents, case history and other relevant data.

“Our frontline child protective workers are first responders for New York City’s children, and we have to make sure they have every tool available to do their lifesaving work,” said ACS Commissioner David A. Hansell. “Whether it’s making the difficult decision to remove a child from a dangerous home or referring a family to substance abuse treatment, these technological upgrades will mean CPS have the tools they need to serve children and families right at their fingertips.”

The new tablets will also be equipped with high-speed internet and several advanced features. According to ACS, each tablet features Microsoft OneNote and ACS’s Safe Measures dashboard, a city-developed platform that gives agency employees overviews of their cases and helps them manage tasks, track interviews and prioritize workloads. Supervisors are also able to view caseworkers’ workload and analyze their progress.

OneNote provides workers with “speech-to-text” technology as well as the ability to handwrite notes using a stylus.

“Carrying tablets with these apps and software helps us prioritize our work and complete investigations faster and more efficiently,” said Eric Blackwood, a child protective specialist in Brooklyn.

The city’s child protective specialists investigated about 60,000 reports of child abuse and neglect called into the New York Statewide Central Register in 2017, ACS said.

Before ACS’ purchase of the tablets, its caseworkers have had to keep paper records or get to an office to search databases or pull up records. City officials have said this causes critical time to be lost in sensitive investigations. So far, 2,628 ACS workers have been trained to use the Surface Pro devices and the SafeMeasures dashboard.

“These tablets and software upgrades are a terrific example of how technology can be a powerful tool for public good,” said Samir Saini, New York City’s chief information officers.

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