The core of Vanessa Behan’s crisis nursery is relationship, but completing required paperwork limited the time available to assist families. Every time a child was dropped off at the Nursery, a family support specialist met with the family in the Crisis Nursery’s living room setting and began to grow their relationship. First, they needed to complete a stack of paperwork that took between fifteen and twenty minutes to fill out. Little time was left to provide meaningful assistance.
A secondary issue developed when state licensing mandated that all their intake paperwork be stored for a minimum of seven years after they stop doing business, a dramatic change from holding each case for five years after their last visit. Their fifteen filing cabinets of paperwork would grow continually, causing a storage issue.
With no intention to close their doors, the Crisis Nursery needed to find a solution that would streamline their tedious paper and pen intake process while maintaining the safety of every child in their care. They sought to upgrade to an automated system that would save information digitally, eliminating the need for onsite storage and allowing for more time to build relationships with parents. Moved by this non-profit’s care for the community of Spokane, IntelliTect offered to do the project at cost.
The IntelliTect engineers took on the project and created a framework to simplify the process of creating great websites. As a result, they built the web-based system quickly. This new system allowed for much more than the Crisis Nursery was expecting.
- Call log – organizes and catalogs all calls received
- Intake screen – information is gathered during the first visit then saved and confirmed during future visits
- Scheduling page – shows how many children they can accept at any given time based on how many staff they have on shift. This page helps the Nursery keep in compliance with their one staff member to every four children ratio. It also shows in real-time who is coming to the Nursery, who is already here, who will be leaving and who has recently left.
- Family records – stores up-to-date information on the children in each family home, and allows for notes on interactions with families
- Food tracker – lists which child has allergies (and what type), also provides a place to record a food log
- Discharge screen – list of current kids and their pick-up information
- Editable review section – allows for notes that can be reviewed and modified
- Status board – a large television that displays where the kids are in the Nursery
The status board on the new site is an important safety feature according to Amy Knapton Vega, executive director of the Crisis Nursery. She said that the screen limits the risk factor of losing track of a child. More importantly, it provides vital information on the children in their care via easy to recognize icons that denote needed medications, allergies or other pertinent information (see screenshot). Previously, house parents needed to search through a child’s file for this information. Now, these details are immediately accessible and kept securely on the computer so that visitors to the Nursery don’t see anything confidential.
The new system was also designed to catch mistakes as they’re entered to streamline the intake process further. A cell turns red when there’s an error and shows what is required to correct it so that entry can continue smoothly. Errors are now addressed before it comes time to save the potentially lengthy document.
At the end of the project, the Crisis Nursery had a software system that eliminated the need for deep-storage file cabinets and helped reduce the amount of time required for parents to fill out paperwork while dropping off and picking up their children during emergency situations. “We went from spending fifteen to twenty minutes on paperwork to eight or nine minutes,” Vega said. “The paperwork was clogging up our relationship with parents. Now we have eleven more minutes to grow our relationships. That’s how change happens.”
Intellitect also received the Heart of Gold Award for their outstanding support in this effort. This award is given to a business, an individual, or an unsolicited nonprofit that has contributed significantly to the success of the Crisis Nursery during the past year. It can be through a one-time contribution or volunteer effort, or it could be given in recognition of on-going support given over a period of years. If it is a one-time recognition, as IntelliTect’s was, the contribution must be very impactful to the success of the Nursery in its ability to carry out its mission.
The relationship between IntelliTect and the Crisis Nursery is ongoing.
In time, IntelliTect hopes that other nurseries will leverage this software system to further their own work with children.