Meet a Civic Hall Toronto Member: Toronto Children’s Services’ Digital Transformation Team
March 1, 2019
Civic Hall Toronto’s government members are always striving to use technology and design to better serve residents. This series introduces readers to our members, and the innovative work they’re doing inside and outside of City Hall.
As one of the fastest-growing cities in North America, more and more children are calling Toronto home each year. This means that child care services in the city not only need to expand, but also become easier to access.
That’s where the Digital Transformation Team, part of Toronto Children’s Services, comes in.
Rod Silva, Manager, Business Innovation & Transformation, states the team’s mission as: “How can we deliver services to the public more efficiently?”
Put another way, the Digital Transformation team is working on reducing the number of steps needed for parents to access child care programs and fee subsidies.
Currently, parents receiving a fee subsidy have to schedule an in-person meeting with their caseworker each year to renew their subsidy. They can also only submit supporting documents, like leases or employment letters, by mail or fax.
To help save these parents time, the Digital Transformation team has been building the My Child Care Account platform — an online, one-stop shop for the City of Toronto’s child care services. Of the 30,000 families currently receiving a child care fee subsidy in the city, over 16,000 have already signed on to the platform.
“Eventually, people who have an account don’t even need to come in to maintain the subsidy,” Rod said. “They just need to come in once to sign up.” Eventually, the plan is to make the entire process digital by moving the initial sign-up process online.
Video Explaining How My Childcare Account Works
The platform is the first of its kind for the City, as it allows users to input personally sensitive information themselves and securely upload documents. The team behind My Child Care Account has already received an internal City of Toronto award recognizing their innovative approach to service delivery.
The team’s work has also been used by a larger digital transformation initiative at the City: the Human Services Integration (HSI) project.
HSI brings together other city divisions to create one comprehensive application for multiple income support programs, including child care fee subsidies, housing subsidies, and Ontario Works.
“Right now, they have to come to three different offices and tell their story three times. With Human Services Integration, they could come in and only apply once,” Rod said.
“It would make the lives of those clients easier.”
To help them achieve their mission of building services that better meet the needs of Toronto children and parents, Rod and his team are exploring how they can better attract, recruit and retain local tech talent.
“Government practices are not always the most modern and innovative,” said Rod. “It can be difficult to attract people with a tech background who are also looking at other places to work,” particularly with the recruitment process usually taking longer in the public sector than the private sector.
The Digital Transformation team recently worked with Civic Hall Toronto in a talent recruitment sprint. The goal was to understand the team’s specific challenges and candidates’ pain points in the recruitment process. They brainstormed solutions alongside participants from other sectors — including private sector recruitment and human resources staff from the Ontario Digital Service — and have already put their learnings into practice.
“We’ve had two postings since the sprint and we’ve already been able to start screening applicants faster,” Rod said.