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Winter 2001/2002
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Department of Job and Family Services

Ohio's Employment, Health, and Human Services Benefits from GIS

Esri Services logoOver the last three years, GIS has helped provide significant spatial analyses to the offices in the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) as well as other organizations in Ohio. The ODJFS uses GIS to develop and maintain custom applications for both the Internet and the department's Intranet (Innerweb) to support these organizations. The programs and services supported by ODJFS using GIS technology help Ohioans address health and safety issues and allow the State of Ohio to leverage resources, reduce duplication, and streamline services.

children at play
The Child Day Care Center Locator helps families across Ohio find the right facility.

The enterprise GIS solution ODJFS is implementing will allow staff members, local counties, and local municipalities to improve communication with other organizations and the general public. "The intuitive way GIS allows each user to view information as maps is the greatest benefit of a GIS," remarks Mike Bischoff, chief of GIS for the ODJFS. Many departments within ODJFS will utilize geographic information to create tables that report services by county, associate applicant names with school districts, examine patterns of foster care placement by distance from family of origin, locate underserved areas, measure access to care across each county, and help clients identify their nearest service providers.

Historical GIS Use

Historically, the ODJFS uses GIS to justify and consolidate departmental resources and as a way to track and present the data they need to validate their use of State resources. For example, when the ODJFS needed to conduct location and population analyses of Medicaid Managed Care Counties for the Office of Medicaid, it turned to GIS to provide the tools. The ODJFS used ArcInfo to help select HMOs that provide managed care in Ohio's 28 managed care counties. Using ArcInfo, ODJFS performed a spatial analysis to look at the actual Medicaid population and HMO-proposed managed care facility sites and allocated the recipient population to proposed provider capacities to meet Health Care Financing Administration accessibility requirements. At the end of this project, the decisions derived from the use of GIS technology became the basis for awarding and maintaining managed care contracts within Ohio in the amount of $408 million annually.

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The Child Day Care Center Locator application queries the Spatial Data Warehouse through the ArcIMS server.

Another way that the ODJFS uses GIS technology is to spatially analyze departmental resources, such as when the Ohio General Assembly requested that the State of Ohio transition its unemployment system from its current 60 facilities to a one-stop system with 100 percent filing for unemployment benefits by phone. For its part, the ODJFS used ArcView 3.2 to help conduct the spatial analyses of all ODJFS employment personnel and facilities in the State and assess the most cost-beneficial use for relocation of facilities and staff. By helping to meet the General Assembly's requirements, the ODJFS estimated that this transition has saved Ohio Businesses and taxpayers more than $17 million a year.

New GIS Use

When the ODJFS decided to expand its use of GIS technology and provide applications to the public via the Internet, Bischoff contracted Esri's Professional Services Division to perform a GIS needs assessment for the department. Based on Esri's recommendations, the ODJFS decided to move ahead with its enterprise GIS objectives and began working with Esri to develop a spatial data warehouse and Web-based applications developed in ArcIMS. At the center of the ODJFS enterprise system is the spatial data warehouse, an Oracle ArcSDE repository of spatial data that provides rapid retrieval and display of the data that the ODJFS uses for its new Child Day Care Center Locator and other evolving applications.

Child Day Care Center Locator

The Child Day Care Center Locator is Internet-accessible and GIS-enabled to help users in the State of Ohio locate licensed child day care facilities in their communities. Users can search by location, type of facility, and the ages of the children that need care. Based on the results of this search, users are able to learn more about each facility, its licensing status, any additional accreditation or affiliation, its location, the number and ages of children served, and information about the findings of licensing inspections.

Benefits of the Child Day Care Locator and other GIS applications gives the ODJFS the tools they need to collect and analyze spatial data for areas that could not be collected before. Additionally, these applications offer improved management of the organization and its resources. "Many organizations within ODJFS find GIS invaluable," states Bischoff.

Moving Forward

Currently, the ODJFS project is entering its second phase. ODJFS continues to develop the Child Care Facility Locator so that it will serve as a template for locating other services such as the Food Stamp Program, special education schools, or job placement locations within the State of Ohio. The ODJFS is also creating a Web-based Performance Center using new GIS technology to analyze and demonstrate performance changes and goal or milestone achievements. The State of Ohio is looking to create a public forum within ODJFS to evaluate the performance and goal achievement of the different offices within the agency.

For more information, please contact Kevin Gates, Esri project manager (tel.: 909-793-2853, ext. 1-2561; e-mail:

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