In the last 6 months, COVID-19 has ushered in a new reality for how business is conducted around the world, including how child welfare institutions can continue critical functions of caring for the most vulnerable children. We can’t help but think about how this global pandemic has impacted these children. They have already spent months or years waiting in a children’s home: waiting for investigations to happen, documents to be signed, families to be approved, and the legal system to make decisions. And now, the wait has become longer as governments have given lockdown orders, movement has been limited and face to face contact has been strongly discouraged or banned.

    What is it like to be a child living in institutional care right now? Despite the pandemic, life goes on. Days, weeks and months have passed. For children living outside of family care, a meaningful percentage of their lifetime has been spent in a children’s home at a time where contact with outsiders should be limited, hugs should not be given, and food and medicine might be in short supply. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we do what we can to ensure that each child can find the safety and security of a family dedicated to loving them as an individual and protecting them during times of uncertainty such as this.

    The role of technology is critical in this endeavor, as we begin to define what the “new normal” looks like, creating a society with limited physical interaction and movement to carry on the business that needs to be done: working the children’s cases so they can be returned to a family. The pandemic has highlighted the need for governments to have a centralized system that collects accurate digital records. With Children First Software (CFS), the government child welfare institution can continue their work remotely in a safe and secure way, collaborating with colleagues and NGOs across the country. With this understanding, the BEB development team remains focused and productive while working from home during these uncertain times, continuing to enhance CFS.

    In March, we released CFS 2020.0, which targeted expanding the usage of CFS to additional departments within the child welfare ministry / institution. We created additional roles for various types of government employees, providing them access to specific CFS modules and data as required for their work activities. The most innovative feature of the release, role-based dashboards, allow us to begin to partner with the governments to re-imagine the way work is conducted in a digital environment. The dashboards direct the user’s attention to the most critical numbers and tasks, using known information to surface relevant data, charts and action items for specific users and roles. Additional enhancements focused on strengthening security, providing more reports and improving user experience.

    In another milestone for BEB, our first mobile application, Profile Mobile, is ready for use! This mobile app works “offline”, allowing countries to visit children’s homes in remote locations without internet or cellular service to conduct a simple census and identify all children living there. Once the user returns to an area with internet access, the information of these children will be uploaded to CFS, creating a digital record for the child. This enables the government to obtain a more accurate understanding of the vulnerable children population living outside of family care. This digital record in CFS provides increased visibility to designated government supervisors, making it easier to ensure the child is receiving the appropriate care and their case might be completed more expeditiously.

    This week, our first users will begin installing the Profile Mobile application and conducting prescribed testing during a process known as “piloting” the software. During this time, we provide a limited set of individuals access to the Mobile application so we can evaluate the usability and performance prior to releasing the software to all CFS clients. Our hope is that in July, our government partners will begin using the mobile application.

    Currently, the team is hard at work on the next version, CFS 2020.1, which will be released in August 2020. This version focuses on providing enhanced case management capabilities for social workers and psychologists working on the child’s file, as well as surfacing product documentation in the application.

    The best part? Children First Software, along with quarterly enhancements, are provided to our partner countries for a licensing fee of $1! Our team is dedicated to creating the best application we can to optimize our client’s ability to ensure every child finds a family, as safely and quickly as possible.