Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
A new computer software system being integrated throughout the state Children Youth and Families Department over the next two years will allow for faster and better match-ups between foster parents and children, and provide a more efficient way for different divisions within CYFD to communicate with one another, CYFD spokesman Charlie Moore-Pabst said Tuesday.
The new Binti system replaces the now 30-year-old FACTS system, or Family Automated Client Tracking System.
In addition, as part of the state contract to purchase the software, Binti is being offered to New Mexico’s 23 sovereign tribes and pueblos, for use in each of their independent child welfare systems, Moore-Pabst said.
“Their data will be completely independent of ours,” he said, and CYFD will not have access to tribal information “unless the tribe chooses to share it with us.”
Installation of Binti, which began about two weeks ago, “will bring us into federal compliance, because our FACTS system is so outdated that it’s difficult for us to get the proper data to report to the feds,” he said. “Since we’re building Binti from the ground up, we included all those reporting structures as well.”
Binti is the Oakland, Calif., company that developed the software. Moore-Pabst said CYFD expects it will be fully operational by June 2022 and will have a total cost of $44.8 million paid out through fiscal year 2023. That cost includes software, hardware, project management and related expenses.
Binti has already replaced the older system as the primary source for foster care recruitment. “It was the first thing we switched over,” Moore-Pabst said. “People interested in becoming a foster parent will now fill out an application through Binti, which allows us to track that person and move that person’s profile around as they go through the process of becoming a licensed foster parent.”
Eventually, all CYFD case histories and data from all of its divisions, including Protective Services and Juvenile Justice, will be plugged into Binti.
Consequently, a Juvenile Justice worker will be able to see if a child additionally has a history with Protective Services because of abuse or neglect, “and take into account what the child has been through and get a better and clearer picture of that child’s full situation.”
The new system will also be accessible from remote locations, so CYFD teams in the field will be able to log in and instantly get information, which under the current FACTS system requires them to phone somebody in an office who has access to the database, Moore-Pabst said.
Additionally, law enforcement officers will have a “limited scope view” into Binti, similar to what they get now through CYFD’s law enforcement portal. This includes information about the number of children in a home and the number of reports CYFD has responded to regarding a child or a family.
Also this week, CYFD updated its nondiscrimination directive, specifically prohibiting discrimination against children because of sex or gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, genetic information or intersex traits.
These include children who self identify as LGBTQIA – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex or asexual.
“They disproportionately enter the child welfare system, which is due to many factors, but often because they were disowned by their families,” Moore-Pabst said.
“We wanted to make sure that CYFD had open arms for them to become part of our family if that happens.”