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$5 million boost will expand promising UW technology that streamlines social service delivery

We have come so far with technology advances in recent years. Yet given the innovative ideas I've been hearing about that are coming from young minds – at hackathons, in classrooms and labs and at startups – I think we've only just begun to tap the possibilities. The story below out of the University of Washington is just one more example of what can happen when tech-savvy young adults focus on improving lives of vulnerable populations. – Philip Bane


Oliver is a social management solution developed several years back by two University of Washington students who saw a need for better data to improve service delivery in child welfare, foster care and homeless youth systems.

According to a UW Today article, through an integrated collection of 20 process workflows, Oliver can:

  • Track which services children and youth in child welfare, foster care and homeless systems receive
  • Compare service delivery performance results between providers to determine which approaches are the most efficient and effective

The technology is currently being used in Washington to help coordinate court-ordered, supervised visits between children in foster care and their biological parents.

But soon it will expand to five more communities in Washington, Oregon and California.

A $5 million boost
Oliver developer Partners for Our Children, which is part of the UW School of Social Work, will collaborate with San Francisco-based nonprofit Third Sector to develop a series of performance hubs at research universities. The hubs will help local governments and providers use Oliver to improve data collection, service delivery and monitor results.

Money for the expansion included a $2.4 million grant from the Social Innovation Fund  plus $2.6 million in matching funds from the UW (of which $2.4 million is from former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife Connie who also provided funding to create Partners for Our Children in 2006).

"These organizations have little resources, little technology and often no history for tracking performance methods," said Benjamin de Haan, executive director of Partners for Our Children.

With software and apps that help streamline processes, Oliver helps fill that gap.

"This is a good opportunity for us and the university to give something very tangible back to the provider community," de Haan added.

Related topics…
How data and analytics drive better outcomes for Oregon's juvenile offenders
Texas pilot uses technology to improve outcomes for foster kids (and it's working!)

This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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