How Data and Public-Private Partnership Can Reduce Child Abuse

One of the most important responsibilities of our government is protecting our future. And that means protecting our children. 

Next month, ThoughtSpot is partnering with the Indiana Department of Child Services on a hackathon, with the goal of improving the effectiveness of the Child Abuse Hotline

A Widespread Problem 

Children represent our future. They embody change, possibility, growth and the hope of all humanity. Sadly, at least 1 in 7 children has experienced child abuse or neglect in the US during the past year. On average, 5 children die due to child abuse every day. Just as horrifying, among the 7.8 million children involved in reported cases of child abuse, only 3.3 million children received prevention or post report services, a critical element to reducing fatalities from child abuse. And in the current pandemic, the situation is only getting worse

The Child Abuse Hoteline is on the forefront for reporting and hopefully, intervening in child abuse cases. Each year, millions of phone calls come in nationwide and the departments of child services do their best to respond quickly and effectively. When children and families are in urgent need, however, improving response times even by minutes counts. 

Government agencies must modernize and innovate to achieve the mission outcome and give these children the possibility of a future they deserve. I’m a firm believer that automation, using modern analytics, can help. 

My Personal Mission

The cause of the Department of Child Services is a personal one for me. Ten years ago, I was leading customer strategy for global customers at a large multinational technology company. As an immigrant, I was fortunate to have received a great education, embarked on a promising career path and actualized the American dream. 

I thought experience wasn’t unique to me, until one day, I participated in a child welfare proposal. I was completely shocked and saddened to realize, in this great country with freedom and democracy, there are thousands of children fighting for their lives each day. With my background, I saw there was real potential for predictive analytics to come to the rescue and help more children have the same opportunity I did. 

That was the defining moment for me, personally and professionally. I knew I wanted to take my career in a new direction to have an impact where I clearly saw the need. I was determined to move to the public sector organization, which took 7 months and 7 transfer requests. I almost lost my job twice due to internal processes. But getting to build public-private partnerships to solve meaningful problems was worth it. It’s still the best career decision I’ve ever made.

Advancing the Cause with Modern Analytics & Open Data

Data belongs to the People and for the People. The Open Data movement in recent years has enabled more meaningful, impactful and profound citizen engagement. However, data alone does not drive change or impact. Data must be turned into insights, and insights into action. This is especially true for child services, where every piece of information represents the life and future of a child. 

Historically, government data has often been too complex or large for the right decision makers to be able to turn into insights. Fortunately, there is a new wave of disruptive data technologies built on search, automation and AI that make it possible for anyone to ask questions of government data and get answers using simple natural language. The government, especially in critical areas like Child Services, has an imperative to bring in new capabilities that advance their missions with faster, more democratized access to data.

The Public-Private Partnership 

As we suggested during the Federal Data Strategy 2021 Priorities Open Forum on Nov 2 2020, the private sector and government agencies have a mutual interest in bettering our society. Through public-private partnership, citizens, entrepreneurs, private enterprises, research institutions and government agencies can collaborate to bring new solutions to the most needed areas of our society. 

Imagine that all the case workers in the field can quickly identify the higher risk cases of child abuse and act upon insights generated via augmented analytics in real time. The reduced false positive rate will allow the Department of Child Services workforce to shift the majority of their bandwidth from investigation to intervention, giving children and families the hope they deserve. This kind of outcome rests on a partnership between private enterprise and public groups. And I’m committed to making it a reality.

A Call to Action

No individual can create this kind of impact alone.That’s why I ask you to work side by side with us and contribute to this great vision. Please join us at this State of Indiana Child Services Hackathon either as a participant or  technical or functional SME, or use your voice to spread the word.