It will take at least two years for a contractor to build a custom case management system for the Paternity and Child Support Division. The existing system is experiencing technical issues and is currently down.
(TNS) — V.I. Justice Department officials met Tuesday with contractors who will be working to upgrade the territory’s child support case management system, but it will take at least two years before the custom-designed software is ready for implementation.
“This is the beginning of really making things a lot better,” said Attorney General Denise George.
George said the current Paternity and Child Support Division case management system, the Child Support Territorial Automated Reporting System, or CSTARS, which has been in place since 2001, is suffering technical breakdowns and “is down right now.”
The system should be running again by the end of the week, and the two-year upgrade will ensure efficient service for child support caseworkers and the families they serve, she said.
“The obsolete program, coupled with issues of critical staff shortages, created severe backlogs of child support cases, jeopardized meeting compliance requirements and diminished [Paternity and Child Support Division]’s ability to effectively process claims,” George said.
While all children and custodial parents are receiving payments regardless of the system’s functionality, George said the system “has been faced with a lot of challenges” and “our compliance has been substantially jeopardized” because the system is so outdated.
Willmour Daniel, project manager for ProTech, gave a presentation Tuesday on the planned upgrades, which will take an estimated two years to complete because of the complexity involved in designing a custom system for the territory’s child custody case management needs.
Justice Department Project Manager Derek Thompson said ProTech “did an extensive job” in responding to the territory’s needs, and division chief Terrance Joseph thanked the company “in advance” for helping the division to move forward.
Originally from St. Thomas, Daniel said he worked in Child Support “when there was no system and they were doing it on paper,” and case management has come a long way over the years.
“Will this system carry us out for years to come, in terms of updates?” George asked.
“It’s a continuous cycle, you can never escape that,” Daniel said of having to replace obsolete technology. But he said that typically, a government will start looking at replacing case management software after a decade, and take another five to 10 years to actually put a new system in place.
Paternity and child support program administrator Kathryn DeLugo said the system handles about 8,000 cases territorywide — including interstate cases — and “child support is very fluid,” and cases are constantly being closed as children turn 18, and new cases are being filed.
Daniel said that once the new system is in place, contractors can consult with case managers to further enhance the system, including giving clients access to their case files from their home computer.
The contract with ProTech totals $4.52 million and is effective until Dec. 31, 2021.
©2019 The Virgin Islands Daily News (St. Thomas, VIR). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.