Illinois Action for Children (IAFC) is committed to building strong families and powerful communities through the administration of programs and advocacy efforts focusing on children. The organization knows, with scientific certainty, that the earliest years of life are the most important for educational achievement, social productivity, economic stability, emotional wellbeing, and lifelong health. With these factors in mind, IAFC’s goal is to create a just system for child care and early education that ensures racially and economically equitable outcomes for all children. Utilizing a staff of nearly 500, administering a variety of programs in Cook County and the greater state of Illinois, IAFC relies on its technology to help provide the drivers of change in the lives of Illinois children.
Over the course of three phases, Cloud for Good has partnered with IAFC to help the organization engage and communicate more effectively, reduce manual effort inputting data, decrease application processing time, enrich the overall client experience, and simplify its user interface through Salesforce.
Implementing Salesforce for the Child Care Assistance Program
Phase one of this partnership focused on expanding the organization’s established Salesforce environment, dubbed “ActionForce,” to include the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP): a program helping provide low-income, working families with access to affordable, quality child care.
Prior to Salesforce, IAFC depended upon a longstanding Access-based system with a Microsoft SQL Server backend that was increasingly difficult to support, allowed for no further expansion and growth, and “wasn’t getting used to its fullest potential,” said Chief Information Officer Jeffrey Gawel. The overall goal of leveraging Salesforce for CCAP and all other IAFC programs was to create a single programmatic data system that could effectively track and illustrate relational data touchpoints. “We wanted to be able to tell a story, to be able to look up a record and see all those touchpoints; Salesforce isn’t just collecting data, it’s also creating a workflow management system for CCAP. That’s made a big difference and it’s been extremely successful” said Gawel.
To provide IAFC the most insight into their case management, Service Cloud and Case Management functionality served as the basis for IAFC’s CCAP build. This dynamic combination of technology includes a custom Case Management portal offering clients self-service on the status of applications and general information inquiries available directly through the IAFC website. This implementation intends to cut down on the volume of calls directed to IAFC staff to improve the customer experience and has even allowed IAFC to partner with the state of Illinois to add pertinent information onto the portal relevant to processing dates and expected processing timelines. “It could take some time to get through to staff on a busy day and now they can just go to the website. It’s been a huge time saver for IAFC clients,” said Gawel.
Expanding Salesforce to the Program Integrity and Quality Assurance Program
Following the success of the CCAP Salesforce implementation, the decision was made, “as a testament to Cloud for Good,” said Gawel, to expand the organization’s use of Salesforce for the Program Integrity and Quality Assurance Program team at IAFC. Program Integrity and Quality Assurance work right alongside CCAP to focus on reported program violations reported to CCAP as well as quality improvement initiatives throughout the organization. This program was also utilizing the same tools CCAP had worked with prior to the move to Salesforce, including various Access databases, the oldest of which could no longer be supported.
Since the program revolves around the same clients and cases that the CCAP team uses, it simply made sense to incorporate the program into Salesforce and ensure a clean, reliable flow of data between the programs in one, unified system. The Program Integrity and Quality Assurance team can now access and use live data all from the Salesforce instance as CCAP, a development Gawel describes as a “huge value add because now we have everyone touching the same pool of data. For reporting it’s been a lot better, staff are now able to send daily reports on cases, which has been very useful.”
Further Expansion + A Look Toward the Future
With two successful Salesforce implementations under its belt, IAFC then made the decision to migrate its Health & Safety Resources program into the organization’s existing Salesforce environment. The result has been a major improvement in the quality of work-life for Health & Safety Resources staff. Clearer communication, more streamlined collaboration, and unfettered access to key data related to program providers, consultations, monitoring visits, and corrective action plans are now seamlessly harmonious, reportable, and visualized through new dashboards. “Cloud for Good came in and built all kinds of workflow mechanisms and reminders for all these things staff wanted but didn’t have,” said Gawel. “Their director can’t stop talking about how valuable it’s been to the team; it’s been night and day.”
Due to the overwhelming success of adopting Salesforce among IAFC staff, and all the glowing reviews the platform has received, IAFC looks to continually expand its use of the technology by gradually bringing all IAFC programs onto its Salesforce instance. “I would highly recommend Cloud for Good,” said Gawel. “The team was very professional with a good methodology behind things. The projects have been well managed and well done. The team also did a great job of understanding and translating our needs and requirements into Salesforce-based solutions. There was a real desire to help our programs be successful. All of our implementations were smooth because of the team.”
For more information on Illinois Action for Children, including how to support its mission, visit actforchildren.org.
Written by Blake Becker
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