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What is NACCRRA Data Services? Online Referral Module (ORM) Focus

Friday, July 20, 2012, 4:45:13 PM

Dear Reader:

As you may know, for the program 2012-2013 we are making a concerted effort to relate to the field in new ways. For the coming weeks different members of the NACCRRA Data Services (NDS) team will contribute to this Blog. I wanted to take a minute and introduce myself as the current Director of Application Development working alongside J Albright, our Chief of Technology. My name is Cathy Wague. I manage the NDS Team which include the Help Desk staff, Ruth Bowell and Charlotte Pelz as well as a handful of faithful developers who turn into reality the great feedback we get from the field. I am also a mother of three beautiful children. I was recently in the trenches looking for qualtiy child care for my then 8 week old boy. I got lucky and found a licensed and experienced home provider on my way to work. Finding quality child care should not be left to luck but that is the harsh reality.

For parents, finding child care can be a real challenge. As a new parent I have researched, screened, contacted and physically visited countless child care programs just to find out that none met my individual needs and preferences. It is a story line many of us can relate to. On the other end, providers are also struggling to market their home or center program. That’s where we come in. The NACCRRA Data Services (NDS) Suite of applications is designed to bridge many a need between those two groups.

When I started at Child Care Aware of America at the end of January 2011, my first mandate was to see through the release of Online Provider Services (OPS) by the first week of March 2011. Yes, my heart skipped a beat but with the zeal of the new hire and NACCRRA’s mission’s still imprinted in my mind, I delved right into it. This post is however not about OPS, we will come back to OPS in a couple of weeks. The same positive energy put into OPS was subsequently channeled into the enhancement of NACCRRAware Internet Mask Module (IMM).  We wanted to provide an enhanced parent platform for online referrals.  The team had already enlisted members of several CCR&Rs from across the US to help define the requirements for ORM during a 12 month focus group period. With some institutional knowledge under my belt and the comfort of having been with the NDS team for a few months, we added to the focus group a 3 month pilot period with agencies representing a variety of demographics. Leading to the public release in September 2011, pilot agencies tested the application with parents in their communities and gave us even more valuable feedback. A few demos and hallway conversations at LPDI gave greater context to functionalities that agencies were advocating for. The Online Referral Module was born.

 Over and over we've heard that ORM can help save valuable time and minimize if not eliminate frustration for parents. Since last September we have diligently worked on improving ORM. To date we have had seven small releases aimed at fixing bugs that are brought to our attention through the implementation of the tool in agencies of various size and scope. As a result of the regular feedback we receive from the field, several new features have been incorporated into ORM.  The map was the most acclaimed feature that we added. It gives parents radial search ability based on an exact address or zip code.  Here is a screen shot of the ORM Search Results:

Example of ORM Search Results

The list below showcases a few other suggestions that were implemented with user friendliness, diversity and security in mind:

  •  Providers displayed in the online referral listing can be selected and saved
  •  Agencies are able to mask the locations of family child care homes, if they desire
  • On screen tool tips can be added to define fields and provide additional guidance to parents
  • A user name field and a security question must be answered when retrieving a lost password.
  • Agencies can also create a profile in Spanish
  • Child data is handled differently so that child records are no longer duplicated, skewing agency reports
  •  A built in utility to migrate existing IMM client records to their new ORM profile
  •  An ORM administrative user account can be created with access only to ORM

 During training, we are often asked about the future of IMM. While agencies can continue using their IMM profiles, we will eventually be phasing out IMM and replacing it with ORM. As an application in the NDS Suite, the cost for ORM is included in the annual license fee and there is nothing additional to pay to access it. We hope to see more agencies take advantage of this really useful tool. Please reach out to the Help Desk at (866) 789-7590 or ndshelpdesk@naccrra.org for training and implementation support. Next week, we will cover Child Care Online (CCO) and how it is connected to ORM. We welcome your comments and questions. Login or Register to give us your feedback. Please visit us often. Thank you for your time!

Cathy Wague