Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Charlie Crist

George H. Sheldon

April 28, 2010
Contact: DCF Communications

Florida Department of Children and Families Receives BlackBerry Award
For New Technology Improving Safety of Foster Children

ORLANDO, Fla. – A Wireless Leadership Award from BlackBerry was presented today to the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) for its “revolutionary” in-house development and statewide use of smartphones and laptops enabling caseworkers to instantly record and access information on the safety of children in foster care.

The Department’s work was recognized at the 2010 Wireless Enterprise Symposium, a conference attended by more than 5,000 technology experts from around the world. The "Innovation in Public Sector" award recognized “the ability to use the camera and GPS capabilities of a BlackBerry smartphone to date-stamp photos and record field notes directly into the state’s child welfare system. The solution helps to increase the safety and well-being of children under the state’s protection while improving the integrity of data entered by caseworkers.”

Florida is the first state in the nation to give caseworkers the technology to do their jobs in the field while checking on the nearly 18,500 Florida children in foster care. The smartphones and laptops include cameras using GPS to take photos of children that record the time, date and location. Caseworkers also can take notes, upload information and check on the status of their cases through Internet connections to the state’s child welfare database. Under state law, children in foster care must be visited by a caseworker at least once every 30 days. About 2,350 caseworkers in the state are supervised by community based care agencies and other local agencies.

“Governor Charlie Crist had the vision of using technology to do a better job of keeping track of children in foster care,” DCF Secretary George H. Sheldon said. “We thank BlackBerry for its Wireless Leadership Award recognizing how DCF and our community partners embraced new technology to shrink the time that caseworkers spend on paperwork and increase the time caseworkers spend with children.”

The Remote Data Capture (RDC) technology application developed by DCF is being used on a variety of smartphones and laptops that include but are not limited to BlackBerry.

"This award is a testament to the commitment of Secretary Sheldon, Governor Crist, the Florida Legislature and our community partners to child welfare," DCF’s Chief Information Officer Ramin Kouzehkanani said.