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Software to help county manage juvenile cases

Profile image for By Megan Gray-Hatfield
By Megan Gray-Hatfield

Denton County juvenile probation department recently unveiled new case management software, part of its efforts to go all paperless.

Ken Metcalf, the county’s director of juvenile probation, said the new software, also known as TechShare.Juvenile, will save time and paper in addition to streamlining the process for state reporting.

By law, Metcalf said, the department is required to submit general census information — such as detainees’ ages and what kind of offense was committed — and by being automatically linked up with the state, the reports are at employees’ fingertips.

“It can be a question of if someone has been through a counseling program and what the outcome from the program might be,” he said. “This software will provide that information.”

Kevin Carr, the county’s director of technology services, said Denton County got a break when it came time to implement the system. It was originally budgeted at $1.62 million in 2008 as part of the county’s capital improvement program, for implementation for a future year, he said.

Metcalf said the county learned its old system through Tyler Technologies would no longer be supported and decided to go forward with TechShare.Juvenile.

The software system was funded in partnership with other members of the Texas Conference of Urban Counties. Through the conference’s Tech Share program, counties work together as a group to develop and buy software to share.

Carr said by the time Denton County was looking to use the program, enough counties had bought in to significantly lower the cost. The software cost Denton County $652,000.

“It’s beautiful having all these counties work together, going out for bid together and working together on purchase and implementation,” Carr said.

Officials said the new system is designed not only for the juvenile probation department, but also for law enforcement, prosecutors, school districts managing at-risk youths, and other groups, which will receive limited access.

“If someone was to get stopped, all the officer will have to do is enter the child’s name, and all their information would pop up, no matter where they were arrested in the state,” Metcalf said.

Rather than law enforcement mailing in documents, all arrest and field reports can be directly scanned in for immediate access, Metcalf said.

“I think the new system will be so much more efficient in collaborating with our current student information system more readily,” said Jamie Wilson, Denton school district superintendent.

Denton ISD runs the Joe Dale Sparks Campus, which operates as part of the Denton County Juvenile Detention System and educates teenage students who have become involved in legal or disciplinary issues.

Metcalf said the department is currently managing 500 juveniles on court-ordered probation, 300 on deferred prosecution, 25 children post-judicial and 30 in detention.

“We probably have 1,000 referrals in a calendar year,” he said. “While the system is new and has some kinks to work out along the way, I can see this to be very beneficial to everyone involved in working our case load.”

Staff writers Bj Lewis and Britney Tabor contributed to this report.

MEGAN GRAY-HATFIELD can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.