"We went over it once and that was it. Bart and Matt just got it. The ins and outs. The details. We knew immediately we wanted to work with them. They were able to see Children's Haven's specific needs"
- Children's Haven
Children's Haven came to Midwestern Interactive to audit their physical pen and paper processes and devise a plan to digitize their workflow. The digitization of Children's Haven's workflow has given them more time to help the clients they serve and reduce the amount of time it takes to keep track of all the data, and items associated with each client. This project has changed the way they serve their clients from the second a client begins to be taken in through the time they exit Children's Haven.
Children's Haven of Southwest Missouri is one of the organizations that make you believe in superheroes. They provide 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, were filed in a manilla folder and stored in a large filing cabinet. Not only was this a waste of precious space, but the time they needed to focus on providing a safe place for children in crisis was also 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. They also 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!
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:
And we delivered.
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.
The 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 auto-populates, instead of having to enter information more than once.
To increase efficiency further, 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 data is put in, the list automatically adapts to the additional forms needed. Below this list are case notes and appointments from the most recent, all the way 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 of the family at once.
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 guaranteeing the system would work.
Then we made it even better. We reviewed the intake and exit processes and then dove deeper. We 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.
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 transfers of information to other community agencies. Children’s Haven is more efficient and 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!
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