DSS began setting up its Web page in September 1995. "The Internet technology was starting to become big, and we wanted to put out information about our agency's programs," said Berry. But with 90 different programs to administer, this was no easy task. "I took huge, three-inch binders of information on our programs and put them on the Internet," he said. "After that, we started expanding as certain programs became more important, such as welfare reform."
Connecticut established its welfare reform program pretty early, and once Clinton's welfare reform act was signed, a lot of states found they were suddenly going to be facing some big changes. "A lot of states are trying to catch up," said Ford. "They look to us for guidance, because we are already well on our way on this. We've received a number of e-mail messages on our Web site from people who are looking to implement digital imaging or child support enforcement or welfare reform, and they want to know how we did it."
And DSS is still looking for more ways to improve its site. "We deal with a lot of statistical information," said Berry, "and because we are so big, it's hard to keep updating it. Rather than put out bad information, we want to get a good system to take our database information and put it directly onto the Internet."
Ford said he would like to see DSS regulations and policy available online next, which would benefit other states as well as their own staff. "Our regional offices are not tied to us except through a mainframe, e-mail and a few other applications," Ford said. "Having regulations and policy out on the Web page would allow for access to up to the minute data and we wouldn't have to worry about updating our paper manuals. It's quite a job, but that would make life a lot easier and would enhance our own productivity."
PROBLEM/SITUATION: Connecticut wanted to track down deadbeat parents and put Social Services information online.
SOLUTION: They created a Web site with a wide range of information and a new way to track deadbeat parents.
CONTACT: Claudette J. Beaulieu, Connecticut Dept. of Social Services, 860/424-5010