INDIANAPOLIS -- The state has launched a new tool to help address communication and record sharing problems within the state’s child welfare system.
The app, Information Sharing Guide, aims to make it easier for state agencies to share information.
Parents can also use the app to help gather documents about their child’s case, whether those records be medical, school, court, police, or child welfare related.
The Commission on Improving the Status of Children developed the idea after research showed communication gaps can cause delays in cases involving the state’s most at-risk children.
Family Violence Resource Attorney Ruth Reichard and the commission helped develop the app, which launched in January and has already been used more than 19,000 times.
“We believe we’re the only state that has an app, and I really think we will be a model for other states to follow,” said Reichard.
Reichard explained many people are confused about which records they can access and how even people who work with children.
“The federal and state laws about sharing information are very complex,” said Reichard. “We can’t expect all the people to know the law like a lawyer would.”
You can’t access a child’s documents through the app, however, it does answer how to find the records.
The app also provides request and consent forms you can use to get the documents you need.
“Say for example, you’re a teacher and you are concerned your child has not shown up in school for a few days and you hear the child was removed from the home,” said Reichard. “If you have questions you would use the app and say I’m an educator and I want records from the Department of Child Services.”
Many parents do not understand how to access records about their child’s case.
“The app would be most helpful if they have a case in the system such as paternity, child support, delinquency, child maltreatment, really the answers are the same regardless," said Reichard.
Once you download the app, you do not need internet or cell service to get the answers.
Organizers told Call 6 Investigates that’s’ by design so that people in rural areas can get information anywhere they go.