Case #1552.0

Family Net: An Automated Child Welfare Information System

Publication Date: December 23, 1999
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When, in 1998, Massachusetts Department of Social Services adopts an innovative information system to track some of its most sensitive responsibilities: the oversight of families with abused or neglected children. Officials are optimistic that Family Net, the state's response to a federally-mandated computerization of records, will not only help organize records long held in shoeboxes and file cabinets but will allow the state's social workers to do their jobs better. The new system, it's hoped, would provide access to a family's history at a glance and would help guarantee that no family fell through the cracks--a great fear for an agency where potential horror stories lurk. This case focuses on the experience of frontline managers and caseworkers and they seek to adapt to the routines provided and demanded by Family Net. It describes employee concern and resistance, management adaptation and changing expectations.

Learning Objective:
This case is ideal for a discussion of how (and whether) the capacity of a frontline workforce can be augmented and changed through the use of technological innovation.

Other Details

Case Author:
Esther Scott
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States
Funding Source:
Muskie School of Public Service