The Roadmap to Developing a New Case Management Information System (CMIS) for Children in Armenia
For optimum case management, agencies working in child protection require reliable data on children’s resources, needs, services received, and wellbeing outcomes. Case management information systems (CMIS) can help case workers operate more efficiently and effectively, leading to greater program impact. Data from CMIS also serve as valuable advocacy and motivational tools that help organizations and workers serving vulnerable children to understand and promote their successes and support the policy level decision making process.
“A case management information system is a fundamental tool that supports government agencies and programs working with vulnerable populations, like children in adversity,” notes Hasmik Ghukasyan, D4I Armenia Resident Advisor. “A CMIS can help assess the services available, who provides them, and at what level which will ensure quality data collection and improved reporting for informed decision making,” she notes.
CMIS can also support effective referral systems and information sharing among provider agencies (e.g., schools, police, hospitals, courts, and social services), ensuring that children receive timely, coordinated services for the best outcomes. In short, a good CMIS helps children receive the support they need to thrive.
D4I in Armenia
A Data for Impact (D4I) project that began in August 2020 supports Armenia’s Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MOLSA) with the development of a new CMIS for the national child protection system.
Armenia’s current CMIS (called MANUK, which translates to child) for programs serving children in adversity, does not meet the needs of users and other stakeholders. A D4I assessment revealed several issues with the more than twenty-year-old information system, including an obsolete software platform and an inability to connect with external databases for integrated case management monitoring across provider organizations.
D4I’s support for planning and developing the new system will help assure coordinated care through data exchange, ultimately leading to improved case management outcomes for children in Armenia.
Understanding the Ecosystem in Armenia
“Understanding how case management works in a country is a critical step in developing a CMIS, because such a system needs to reflect the laws, policies, and SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) regulating case management, as well as workforce considerations (e.g., who carries out case management at what levels of the system). This informs what technology options ought to be considered, given the country context and set of services to be delivered.” —From MEASURE Evaluation
In June 2021 D4I began a six-month learning and development process alongside stakeholders in Armenia to create a roadmap for the new CMIS. Steps included becoming familiar with MANUK, identifying changes users want in an updated system, creating reference terms for the new CMIS, and vetting these terms with groups vested in the system’s success. The team used the CMIS Assessment and Planning Tool developed by the D4I project to guide this process.
The current and new ecosystems of Manuk CMIS in Armenia
As part of the assessment, D4I developed an “ecosystem map” of users and key players linked to the current information system. The team also held a series of meetings and conducted semi-structured interviews to collect data on stakeholders’ needs. D4I then facilitated a workshop in July 2021 to validate the findings from the assessment and gain consensus on essential functionality for the new CMIS—a data ecosystem that fosters information exchange between provider organizations.
Next, a System Analysis Document was created, outlining conceptual approaches to the new CMIS, first covering its architecture and basic system requirements, then expanded to include new technical details to support the system’s eventual development. Since October 2021, D4I has oriented a diverse group of stakeholders to the technical plans: MOLSA staff, staff from the country’s Unified Social Services Centers, other service providers, staff from the Ministry of Justice, UNICEF, and the National Board on Adoption. A five-month process of responding to questions and helping stakeholders visualize the new system followed.
Lessons Learned in Armenia
“One of the biggest lessons learned so far has been our realization of the need for continuous engagement with stakeholders through the entire process,” said Ms. Ghukasyan. “A collaborative process is crucial to ensuring that the new system meets their needs,” she said. The initial assessment and consensus building activities took time but contributed crucially to avoiding mistakes and supporting the sustainability of the new system.
The D4I team also found that mockup screens of what the new system could look like were one of the most useful tools for fostering involvement in the design planning process; having a visual aid helped people understand what was being proposed and envision the possibilities. Clear and frequent communication with stakeholders in general helped ensure that users’ needs remained at the forefront of the development process.
The Mayor of Yerevan Municipality was so excited by the proposed system that he indicated wanting to contribute municipal resources to help build it. System creation will be able to proceed after the Digitalization Board in Armenia provides final approval. The D4I team looks forward to continuing to support the development process and hopes that users’ eventual experience with the new CMIS proves inspiring and helpful in improving outcomes for vulnerable children.
For more information on D4I’s work in Armenia, visit the D4I Armenia webpage.
Hasmik Ghukasyan is a child protection monitoring and evaluation consultant with Palladium, and resident advisor on the USAID-funded Data for Impact (D4I) project, based in Yerevan, Armenia.
Additional Resources on Child Protection and Case Management Information Systems