to change, she said.

"The last challenge, which is where they are now, is working out the bugs, making sure you have online help available, and figuring out where you pull data from to help managers make decisions," she added. "That is really the dessert. They still have a ways to go, but they have passed several important hurdles."

Meltzer said she believes it will take more than a year of use before agency executives realize the impact the software can have. "Then it will be up to the managers to make good use of the data," she said.

Although she believes the state still has a lot to prove, Meltzer is encouraged by the direction the agency has taken. "It's not fixed yet, but I am supportive of their leadership and the urgency they are showing," she said. The litigation has been a long and torturous process, she added, but ever since the creation of the Department of Children and Families, state officials "have lived up to all their commitments, have brought in the type of strong leadership and management they need, and they have focused on data."

Ducoff and Meltzer agree that any improvements the state eventually makes will be more because of people than technology.  "I see this IT system can be a valuable tool," Ducoff said, "but it's not driving change in our case management practices. Our work is people engaging with kids and families and building a system that responds to their needs. The technology is only a tool that supports those efforts."

David Raths  |  contributing writer