Child Care Resources Gets Help Navigating Tech Maze

Child Care Resources Gets Help Navigating Tech Maze

Child Care Resources (CCR) Homeless Child Care Subsidy program is a resource for families experiencing homelessness. By providing access to affordable, accessible learning and childcare, the program allows parents to allocate more time and energy to finding work and housing, removing some of the tenacious barriers that can trap families in extreme poverty. The current online portal for the program uses Microsoft Access, which will no longer be supported as of 2020. Because of this, CCR came to the Hack to Give Thanks seeking technical consultation and code review of a partially-built internally developed solution.

The data from the resulting database will have far-reaching ramifications; in the near future, CCR plans to collaborate with three other nonprofits to open a family resource center in Mount Baker, opening up access to the program for a whole new sector of families in need. Under the current (outgoing) system, case workers need to use four different programs to enter information on their cases. The new solution needs to have a more streamlined user flow and provide accessible data so that case workers can stay informed on their applicants’ status.

CCR has partnered with an outside development resource to make a start on a solution to this problem. While some improvements have been made, there is still a lot of work to be done to arrive at a product that meets the organization’s needs. Some forensic coding is necessary to help the CCR team understand what they already have and assess how to get the last mile to a solution that works for them. Namely, they need back-end access to the data and the ability to generate reports and pull up specific information in a timely manner without third party intervention.

At the Hack to Give Thanks, multiple technical consultants came forward to assist QA manager Cory with a deep dive into the current working solution and assess steps forward. With their expertise, Cory became confident that informed decisions could be made about the future of the technology. Because there had been minimal user testing conducted in advance of the new solution’s development, some retroactive work was done to assess how to optimize the user experience.

CCR brings their data to legislators to help inform policy that affects their systems. By dedicating time to understanding the policy priorities of CCR, anyone can become an advocate for children experiencing homelessness. Reach out to CCR on DemocracyLab to find out how you can make the highest and best impact by calling your legislator. Aside from simply being engaged and aware, CCR is seeking user researchers to help test their product and make it the best it can possibly be.