Superheroes should be superhero-ing, not filling out paperwork
Children's Haven of Southwest Missouri is one of the organizations that makes you believe in superheroes. They provides 24/7 emotional and physical shelter for children whose family is in crisis--no fees, no questions asked. Providing a haven is the organization's heart, but they also work with parents to find crisis-prevention resources in the community.
In 2014, Children's Haven housed 390 of Joplin's children, over half were less than 6 years old. Since the 2011 EF-5 tornado that destroyed much of the safe, low-income housing, the organization serves twice the amount of children, much of which is due to increased homelessness.
Children's Haven's function hinges on working one on one with children and their families, but these heroes found they were spending valuable time inputting data instead. Children's Haven discovered staff spent an hour just on writing a child's name on all the necessary forms.
Multiple forms, many with duplicate information, filed in a manilla folder, stored in a large filing cabinet. Not only was this a waste of precious space, the time they need to focus on providing a safe place for children in crisis was wasted completing forms, filing reports, finding information and collecting data.
They researched ready-made software, but found other organizations who used it had difficulty accommodating their organization's needs. And they met with a few developers who either lost the notes from the previous meeting or just didn't get it.
Extraordinary people with an extraordinary problem who needed extraordinary help!
Midwestern Interactive to save the day
Children's Haven asked Midwestern Interactive to help them develop a cloud-based software that would minimize time spent managing data and maximize services to their clients. We love Children's Haven and what they do, so we are honored to help.
We guaranteed Children's Haven that Midwestern Interactive would:
develop an intensive client profile before we begin to develop solutions
create a custom, high-quality product
test our products thoroughly , and
follow-up with dedicated customer service
And we deliver!
With great talent, comes great responsibility
With over 40 years of development experience, Midwestern Interactive knew we would need to spend time involved in the data system. We put ourselves in the shoes of the staff, volunteers and clients to answer the questions that would lead to a quality long-term solution. Not just browsing through documents and code, but literally sitting next to the workers as they did what they do.
From the number of buttons pushed to the size of their filing cabinets, Midwestern Interactive assessed the daily operations of Children's Haven to determine answers to pertinent questions: What information does Children's Haven collect? What do they do with the data? When do they update and access forms and documents? How do they store and access the information? What software and hard copy resources do they use? How have these worked and not worked? What future needs might arise?
We found their challenges. We developed the solution.
First step was to streamline processes by replacing paper forms with comprehensive, electronic forms. Data would feed into a custom database to house not only information, but it would also populate a form that exactly replicated required state forms. Children can also be categorized as families so information autopopulates, instead of having to enter information more than once.
To increase efficiency even more, we created a simple user interface featuring visual elements instead of text-based headings for easy navigation. The design is sleek and modern, not clinical and convoluted. The Home page features large boxes for quick profile information--color photo, categorization of need, medication and allergies.
Upon entering the individual child's file, staff can immediately see a list of required information. The icon for each form is distinctively blue when complete and red when incomplete. As certain data is put in, the list automatically adapts to the additional forms needed. Below this list are case notes and appointments from most recent back.
Navigation within the software consists of a simple, four button menu. Words take more time to read than images, so we created simple icons for easy location. A drop down menu contains only the most essential user needs, so the user can get to where they need to go quickly. The rest of the screen is devoted to seeing more data at one time.
To optimize the database, Midwestern Interactive developed a platform that would translate to mobile devices. The information is stored in a database that is accessible online to all staff, even from mobile devices.
When an emergency occurs and help is called, staff can input a case wherever they are. Overnight staff report bed checks every 30 minutes and track housekeeping duties using an iPad, providing automatic documentation if ever asked. Mobility, simplicity and accessibility are key.
Non-profit reporting requires condensing information to sometimes intricate specifications. As Children's Haven's needs change, we develop custom reports that are simple and easy to read.
Recently a grant renewal required additional survey information. When they called Midwestern Interactive, we were able to make that work in the software and complete the survey for all members in the family once.
Truth, Justice, and the Midwestern Interactive way
A template or generic system is of little use when faced with unforeseen complications. If Children's Haven shouldn't be wasting time on data input, they certainly shouldn't be wasting time tweaking someone's quick-fix database.
Midwestern Interactive develop software custom for Children's Haven, and we ensured it would work efficiently and perfectly. We diligently tested every possible scenario, every use, and every view to guarantee the system would work.
Then we made it even better. We not only reviewed the intake and exit processes, we also began to consider uses for inputting notes, tracking valuables, maintaining a medicine inventory, storing contacts, coordinating events, and formatting general release logs for every client.
It's what you do that defines you
Midwestern Interactive is on call for continuous improvement. We continue to troubleshoot and provide maintenance to improve our product for Children's Haven's ever-changing needs.
Children's Haven is not only able to spend more time caring for their clients, but they also have data readily available for reports, searches, and transferring information to other community. agencies. They are more efficient, and they are able to accurately assess and report the amazing work they do in our community. It is such an honor to be a part of the success of such an amazing organization!