Rep. Lee, former Cabinet Secretary Holsinger visit with Elizabethtown-area staff
To improve services to families, some of the state’s Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) staff received new tools in early December as part of a sweeping modernization of the state’s agency.
Editor's Note: Dr. James W. Holsinger, Jr., resigned from state government effective December 31, 2005. He was succeeded as Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services by Mr. Mark D. Birdwhistell.
James W. Holsinger Jr., M.D., former secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and Rep. Jimmie Lee, D-Elizabethtown, presented the equipment – an electronic "tool kit" – to staff from the eight-county Lincoln Trail Service Region. The region’s 30 Child Protective Services (CPS) investigators – staff who respond to initial abuse referrals - were the first to receive the equipment and provided a demonstration of the technology.
"This is the next phase in the cabinet’s commitment to using technology and modern business practices in our daily work," Holsinger said. "Much like Medicaid and our mental health and mental retardation services have been updated, now it’s time for DCBS modernization."
The visit was a return visit for Holsinger and Lee, who toured the offices in July with Eugene Foster, Ed.D., undersecretary for Children and Family Services; and Libby Trager, the Lincoln Trail Service Region’s administrator.
To be more effective, protective services staff asked the officials for the improved technology.
"Everyone, especially the families we serve, will benefit from the arrival of these tool kits," Foster said. "We are doing this to improve quality service, documentation and worker efficiency."
The tool kit is a comprehensive package that includes a cellular phone with maximum coverage area, a six-megapixel digital camera with docking station and a small laptop computer.
Reliable cellular phone service is necessary to be able to call for backup if a situation becomes dangerous. Cameras can be used to document in detail neglectful living conditions or the possible signs of abuse. With the laptops, staff can input information immediately into the state’s database, eliminating the lag time between gathering and inputting the data.
"We can save lives with this equipment," Foster said. "For example, if the original worker on a case gets sick, the information will be readily available to whoever takes over. Caseworkers never know what they might encounter on home visits or investigating abuse referrals," Foster said.
"The scourge of methamphetamine production and addiction gives us one more reason to keep staff safety as well as children’s well-being in mind," he said.
Holsinger said launching DCBS modernization this year was a priority of his tenure at the cabinet (he resigned at the end of 2005).
Holsinger indicated that cost is the biggest obstacle in delivering the upgraded technology across Kentucky. But Lee "has played a vital role with the funding for this important effort," Holsinger said.
With help from Lee and other lawmakers, more upgrades to DCBS services can be funded by next year’s General Assembly, Holsinger said.
"Our staff will continue to garner support from the legislature to get the best resources available to our staff, so they can better assist families in crisis," Holsinger said.
The Lincoln Trail pilot will last 60 days. In February, staff will regroup to evaluate the tool kit before the CPS ongoing workers and staff across the state receive it.
The Lincoln Trail Service Region includes Breckinridge, Grayson, Hardin, Larue, Marion, Meade, Nelson and Washington Counties.
Log onto www.chfs.ky.gov for more information about the Department for Community Based Services.
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