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News & Press: Social Justice

DHHS improving technology for caseworkers

Friday, November 13, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Brad Bender
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DHHS improving technology for caseworkers

 

Justin A. Hinkley, Lansing State Journal

6:48 a.m. EST November 13, 2015

 

LANSING - Building one system to manage the millions of cases spread across hundreds of public assistance programs is among officials' top goals as they work to fully merge two of the largest departments in state government.

Nick Lyon, director of the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services formed this spring through the merger of the departments of Community Health and Human Services, told a legislative panel Thursday that a shared case management system was one of "five key infrastructure advancements" he was pushing as he continued work on fully integrating the two departments. The shared system would "improve timeliness and allow for greater staffing flexibility" for the department's nearly 14,000 employees.

"We’re working on improvements to the technology that our caseworkers use," DHHS spokesman Bob Wheaton added in a written statement. "Technology needs to support our caseworkers so that they can focus on what they’re best at, what they love to do and what they went to school to learn – doing social work and helping our customers remove barriers so that they can achieve self-sufficiency and success. Caseworkers need to be able to spend time with the people they’re assisting."

Other improvements in the works are a system that would let the various programs better share information, a comprehensive index of the various services available to Michiganders statewide, a platform for DHHS employees and others such as health care providers and community organizations to work better together, and an effort to tap employee ideas on how to make their jobs more effective or efficient.

The department also is working on technology that would help Michiganders do more online and a call center where they can get questions answered, a common application and referral process for all of the various programs, and a streamlined process for Michiganders to renew their benefits, Lyon told lawmakers.

Gov. Rick Snyder announced the merger in his State of the State address in January as part of his "River of Opportunity" initiative to more holistically tackle the problems that bring Michiganders into public assistance programs. Lyons told lawmakers Thursday his department also was building "a common assessment to holistically identify a person's needs, goals and the programs which may be supportive in achieving their goals."

Wheaton also highlighted "success coaches" working in more than 200 schools statewide through the Pathways to Potential program. The coaches "are the point of contact for children and families who need assistance in removing barriers to success," Wheaton said.

Lyons told lawmakers the department is pushing these changes in some of the highest-need programs first, such as food assistance (some 1.5 million people), cash assistance (49,000 people), Medicaid (2.3 million people) and the Healthy Michigan Plan (about 578,000 people).

Contact Justin A. Hinkley at (517) 377-1195 or jhinkley@lsj.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinHinkley.

 

http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/news/local/capitol/2015/11/13/dhhs-improving-technology-caseworkers/75662952/?from=global&sessionKey=&autologin


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