Sunday, July 13, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Tracking Kids the Florida Way

My column today makes the suggestion that DHS caseworkers use their cell phones to snap a photo of the kids they visit, as a way to prove that the look-sees actually occurred. Since most cell phones allow you to share the photo with others, why not have the caseworker send the photo, that day, to a designated e-mail address at DHS, as evidence that the visit took place?

Tracking Kids the Florida Way

My column today makes the suggestion that DHS caseworkers use their cell phones to snap a photo of the kids they visit, as a way to prove that the look-sees actually occurred. Since most cell phones allow you to share the photo with others, why not have the caseworker send the photo, that day, to a designated e-mail address at DHS, as evidence that the visit took place?

It's not a perfect solution to the problem of some caseworkers lying about having seen the children they're paid to protect.  After all, not all cell phones can indicate, via GPS technology, where and when the photos are taken.

But until DHS gets a mutilmillion-dollar, fully-integrated software system as sophisticated as the one Florida is rolling out (which I mention in my column), it's at least a start toward preventing tragedies like the neglect death of 14-year-old Danieal Kelly.

There wasn't enough space in my column to go into depth about Florida's case-management overhaul, but the video below explains it nicely. Yes, it's a promo video created by AT&T, which helped that state's Department of Children and Families (DCF) to implement the new devices, but it's well done and makes me green with envy that we don't have a similar success to crow about here.

My column also didn't have room to give a shout-out to Ramin Kouzehkanani, the gung-ho chief information officer for Florida's DCF.  Ramin took much time to explain how he worked to develop the system; he's so passionate about the results, he tells me he'll do whaetver he can to help DHS launch a similar effort here.

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
About this blog

When my phone rings here at the Daily News, nine times out of ten the caller begins the conversation with, “Yeah, so what happened was…”.

Because this is Philly, the caller doesn’t say, “My name is Bob” – or Mary – “and I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?” Philadelphians are too direct for that. They just say, “Yeah, so what happened was…”, and then tumble into a tale they think oughta be shared with a wider audience. I love getting these calls (even the ones where it becomes clear, after 30 seconds, where the caller sowed the seeds of his own misery), because they give me chance to connect with fellow citizens in a way that no other job allows. Well, okay, no other job for which I’m remotely qualified.

That’s why my blog is titled “So What Happened Was…”. To me, it’s the quintessentially Philly way of saying, “Once upon a time.” When I hear it, I know a good story is coming. And I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Ronnie Polaneczky has been an award-winning columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News since 1999, offering a front-steps perspective on every aspect of city life, from the sublime to the stupid. In her past life, she was the editor-in-chief of Atlantic City Magazine, associate editor at Philadelphia Magazine and a fulltime freelancer published in Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, MarieClaire and others. She lives with her husband, daughter and various pets in the city's Fairmount section, where she dreams of one day singing The National Anthem at an Eagles game. In addition to her column and blog, you can enjoy Ronnie's musings in podcast form here.


Read more from Ronnie Polaneczky at Earth to Philly, the Daily News blog on anything and everything "Green Reach Ronnie at polaner@phillynews.com.

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
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