Allegheny County DHS has released a statement expressing concerns with Can an Algorithm Tell When Kids are in Danger?, which profiled DHS’s development of a predictive risk modeling tool to assist in its child welfare call screening decisions. The DHS statement reads, ”For a couple of weeks in the spring of 2017, author Virginia Eubanks also spent time with us to learn about the tool for her book Automating Inequality which warns about the dangers of using technology in human services. Currently, Ms. Eubanks is on a book tour. You may have read or heard about portions of her writing. Unfortunately, her book is filled with factual errors and mischaracterizes the intent and use of the tool. To address our concerns, we have prepared a DHS Response to Automated Inequality by Virginia Eubanks.”
A New York Times article highlights the innovative work of the Allegheny County Department of Human Services and their efforts to use predictive analytics to improve their response to calls alleging child abuse and neglect. Local foundations have worked closely with Allegheny County DHS both directly and through the Human Services Integration Fund (HSIF), a flexible funding pool begun in 1997. Through the HSIF, 19 local funders (past and present) have contributed more than $12 million to enable DHS to develop innovations in technology, conduct research and improve service quality and department operations.