Child-care social workers will now be able to provide more in-depth services now that the Virginia Department of Social Services has implemented a statewide automated system for subsidized child-care to replace the various automated and manual systems previously used.
To fully appreciate the transformation that the Virginia Case Management System (VaCMS) and the Electronic Child Care (ECC) systems have created, it helps to understand the previous process. Enrolling children in subsidized child-care is a multi-step and labor-intensive activity that requires the social worker to establish eligibility, authorize care, enter data into the local payment system, create invoices for providers and review those invoices for accuracy when submitted for payment.
With the new system, although the eligibility interview process and documentation requirements are much the same and the data still must be entered into the system, now it is the computer that calculates the income and other variables to determine financial eligibility and copay for child-care. Swipe cards are sent to parents to be used each time the child is dropped off or picked up. Using that electronic data, the system twice a month calculates the amount owed the vendor and a makes a direct deposit for the sum into the vendor’s bank account or credits the amount to a debit card issued to vendors who do not have an account.
While the shift to automation has been intimidating, everyone impacted is confident that it will improve the workflow and the cash flow and ultimately benefit all. Social workers plan to be able to focus more on parent education and placement visits to help ensure stable, developmentally appropriate child-care placements. With the streamlining of business processes, there is the hope that there will be more child-care funding available to serve families on the wait list.