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Virginia Selects and Begins Implementation of a Workforce Intervention: Transcription Services

The Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) was the first QIC-WD site to select a workforce intervention. VDSS learned from the field that many workers leave the agency because they feel overloaded with paperwork. In Virginia, 2,400 Family Services Specialists (FSS) representing 120 local departments of social services (LDSS) perform child welfare and adult protective services. These FSS must document case notes for all interactions with clients, families, and service providers. FSS often manage several high-priority cases and need tools to complete their required documentation in a timely and high-quality manner.

VDSS decided to implement three technology solutions to ease the burden of documentation and paperwork. The first is a transcription service so staff can verbally transmit their notes from case visits. Transcription services allow FSS to dictate notes from their case visits via telephone to FlexDictate. This service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. The transcribed notes are returned to the FSS by email, with a required average turnaround time of four hours. Workers are notified via email that the transcription is available, and via a secure website, the worker copies the transcribed notes to place in the electronic system of record.

The feasibility of transcription was tested in the spring of 2017, prior to VDSS partnering with the QIC-WD. Feasibility testing found that staff utilized the service and it saved them many hours of time (i.e., returning to the office and typing notes), allowing them to spend more time with clients. Their stress levels were reduced and satisfaction with the job was enhanced. VDSS began implementation of transcription services in November 2017 with evaluation support from the QIC-WD. Initial implementation includes a phased roll out across the state and full implementation began in January 2018.

VDSS will implement two more technology solutions to decrease worker stress and improve FSS retention. Additional interventions include a mobile app and the new child welfare data system. The implementation lessons learned and evaluation of the roll-out of the transcription services will provide insight on the additional use of technology to improve the FSS workforce statewide.