Watch this recorded session from the 2018 IT Solutions Management for Human Services (ISM) conference to learn how two child welfare agencies are using a system of engagement to influence the lives to the children and families they serve.

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Recorded Session Overview

Two child welfare agencies are using a system of engagement to influence the lives of the children and families they serve. Watch this recorded session from ISM 2018 to learn how. 

One sentence. Just one sentence in a five-year-old case file can drastically change the life of a child. But, with 80% of case content residing in an unstructured format, called “dark data,” that information is virtually impossible to locate or know it’s even there with today’s tools.

On average, child welfare case files contain more than four thousand pages of information, with new content and data being added every day. In agencies across the country, workers and front line supervisors struggle to find the best placement for a child in an emergency, have difficulty evaluating psychotropic medication use in youth in foster care, and face the seemingly impossible task of staying on top of cases that open and re-open over several years.  

For some child welfare agencies, implementing innovative solutions—like a system of engagement—has helped them to overcome systemic barriers. A system of engagement works together with a system of record to enhance how workers deliver services, both in the field and at the office.

Implementing a system of engagement has helped these agencies to take full advantage of their case content—collecting, analyzing, and displaying the critical data and information needed to make confident decisions about child safety.

By automatically analyzing the data and information collected, workers, supervisors, and directors use the dark data hidden in paper or electronic case files. Something as small as one mention of a family member’s name or a community group a child was once involved with may make all the difference. Armed with this information, workers continue to keep the child and family at the center of everything they do and make the decisions necessary to positively impact their lives.



Rich Bowlen, Vice President of Protective Services, Northwoods 

Rich Bowlen

Rich Bowlen is the Vice President of Protective Services for Northwoods, where he is dedicated to improving the lives of caseworkers and social workers. Rich is a dedicated advocate for children and families and excels in applying progressive administrative plans to successfully meet the needs of abused, neglected, and maltreated children. 

Russ Branaghan, President, Research Collective 

Russ Branaghan

Dr. Russell Branaghan is Associate Professor of Human Systems Engineering at Arizona State University, Visiting Professor of Human Factors Engineering at Northwestern University, and Visiting Scientist at Mayo Clinic. At ASU, Russ directs the User Experience Lab (X Lab), where he works with students to study ways to improve the interaction of people with complex products, including automotive systems and medical devices.
Russ is President of Research Collective, a human factors and user experience consultancy in Tempe, AZ. Research Collective’s clients include Hyundai, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Google, Ford, HP, Medtronic, Smith & Nephew, Becton Dickinson and many others.

Joe Kellerby, Child Welfare Director, Mesa County Department of Human Services

Joe Kellerby-1

Joe Kellerby is the Child Welfare Director at the Mesa County Department of Human Services in Colorado. He is responsible for managing the agency's child welfare staff and helping them to improve outcomes for the children and families they serve. 

John Pugleasa, Human Services Director, Houston County Department of Human Services 

John Pugleasa-1

John Pugleasa is the Human Services Director at the Houston County Department of Human Services in Minnesota, where he is responsible for empowering his staff to make informed, confident decisions about child and family safety. He is known for his ability to identify opportunity amid challenge and lead change within his agencies.