The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Twin Cities 2011, March 26-27

Children's Safety Centers

Paired with Team Redundancy Team

Children's Safety Centers (CSC) was founded in 1991 by a visionary woman. After her husband was convicted of beating their four-year-old son with a board she was ordered by the courts to provide visitation between her children and their father. As a victim of domestic violence, she knew that a place for visits was needed where both she and her children would be safe.

In 1993, CSC began with one site in St. Paul serving 20 families. Today, CSC has grown to serve more than 800 families at locations in St. Paul, Lakeville, Cambridge, Red Wing, and Lake City.

CSC serves families who have a variety of histories, including:

• Physical, emotional and sexual abuse

• Neglect

• Chemical dependency

• Mental illness

• Domestic violence

• Children separated from their parents

Families are often referred to CSC through the court system or government agencies such as child protection services. In order to utilize any of our program services all parties (custodial parent, non-custodial parent, foster parent, or grand parent as applicable) must complete the registration and orientation process. During this process, CSC ascertains why the client is interested in using our services, what program would best suit their needs, and the ground rules and guidelines required for program participation. All clients must sign off on these guidelines, stating that they will follow the procedures or risk termination of services. After all parties complete registration and orientation, a visitation or safe exchange is scheduled and children are able to rebuild or maintain healthy relationships with their parents.

What new functionality we are looking for

There are many things CSC would like to see in a new website, including:

*Online registration for appointments and scheduling

*Online registratino for golf tournament

*Full service listing and schedule

*Payment submission

*Donation links

*Information for referral sources and clients

*Calendar of special events

*Forms available to be filled out and submitted online for clients, volunteers, potential employees, etc.

How the new functionality will help

Our current website is incredibly outdated and many of our clients find it difficult to navigate or say that it doesn't serve their needs. An updated site will provide necessary convenience to our clients to find the information they need and omit the need to call the office and have those documents sent through the mail or via email. Although many of our clients have access to the internet, most of them do not have printing capabilities. Being able to fill out and submit forms on line would remove this obstacle for our clients.

With a fully functional website, we will reduce the need for our clients to come in to make payments, drop off information, or connect with our staff; and therefore reduce the liklihood that they will be placed in the uncomfortable and unsafe situation of running into someone they fear.

How our organization will use the technology

Who will use the technology

Before & After Snapshots

Thumbnail_screen%20shot%202011-03-18%20at%203.31.35%20pm Thumbnail_trt-csc1

15 Messages from Supporters

2011-02-17 03:01:41 UTC

Children's Safety Centers is incredibly deserving of this challenge! The staff and volunteers work incredibly hard to help children establish positive relationships with both of their parents, but honestly, their website could use a little work! I think the nerds would have a lot of fun designing something great for them!

2011-02-17 17:50:06 UTC
Laura Kaslow

I've volunteered with Children's Safety Centers and they do a lot of good on a small budget! They have so much to offer! As someone who works full time in the communications field, I know how important a great website is to the success of an organization. CSC has so much growth potential and a great staff that could do amazing things with a new, improved website! I give my 100% vote to Children's Safety Centers!

And for what its worth, I've attended a few Nerdery webinars and think that the Nerdery would be a fantastic organization to help CSC creat a fantastic new website!

Laura Kaslow

2011-02-17 22:22:59 UTC
Dan McKeague

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Dan McKeague.  I am on the Board of Directors for the
Children’s Safety Center in St Paul.  I understand we have requested
to be chosen as a non-profit organization in the Nerdery’s Overnight
Website Challenge.  I have seen the work this organizations does and
how important it is to the families who use it.  I urge you to take a
closer look at this organization and consider choosing the Children’s Safety Center for your project.

Take a look at our website…

As you can see, we could really use the help!

Thank you!

Dan McKeague

2011-02-17 22:51:06 UTC
Eric Honoroff

I’m a regular volunteer with Children’s Safety Centers, helping out around the office and with special projects whenever they come up. Service, staff and volunteers are OUTSTANDING and give heavily to their community however CSC’s website (a high priority to deal with) leaves much to be desired. CSC has its Social Service heart in the right place and quite frankly no one involved with the organization is tech-savvy enough to reformat the website. With its small budget funneled into serving people with thorough care at optimally priced service fees, a major overhaul through a consulting firm is sadly not a feasible option. As a key place of visible, low cost reference for people to the organization and its mission CSC’s internet presence should reflect the quality and breadth of not only what it has done to allow families to be together but all that it is capable of accomplishing in the future. I’m sure you are all overly aware, good Nerdery folks, that from an outsider’s perspective an organization’s website can go a long, long way getting across the value of an organization and that a bad site can only be bad business. Thank you for the chance to harmonize CSC’s community presence with CSC’s web presence!!!! Should CSC be granted the Overnight Website Challenge great, great things can be accomplished.

2011-02-17 23:59:10 UTC
Jeannie Linzmeyer

The contact and knowledge I have with CSC is through communication with my wonderful and dynamic niece, Brooke Thomson, who is a dedicated and talented member of the CSC team. If Brooke is indicative of the level of expertise and devotion of this incredibly important organization, then I think anything the rest of us can do in the way of support simply must be done. So on that note, a healthier website is something that needs to be realized, and I am hopeful that will happen.

2011-02-22 17:20:42 UTC
Dandrea Arme

I've recently started volunteering at CSC and would love for them to get a new website. I searched through a couple of places when deciding where to volunteer my time and picked CSC because of what it does for children and their families. Providing a safe and fun enviroment so that a child can have relationship with both parents is so important. CSC is a great service for the community and are deserving of a website that really shows what and who they are.

2011-02-22 21:37:37 UTC

I have had the privelage of working with CSC for a couple of years now. I had no idea the impact it would make on my life in such a short time. Since becoming a board member last year, I have had multiple opportunities to see what they do and how they do it. The first time I supervised a visitation was at the annual client holiday party. For most of them this was the only celebration these children would have with their non-custodial parent, so for them it was a huge day. We had just gotten our first big snow of the year, but that didn't stop any of the families, or volunteers from showing up and haveing a great day. Watching these children's eyes light up when they saw there parent was incredible. I realized that all of these children were just like mine. I had to fight back tears the majority of the day, only because of the happiness and excitement I was able to witness.

I also learned a lot about the staff. They have one of the hardest jobs ever. They were so focused on the day and all the preperations that went into it. They have to deal with the parents, and that isn't always easy. I witnessed game playing and posturing between parents and can't imagine what that would be like on a daily basis. Both the staff and volunteers are so pasionate, giving and dedicated to CSC. I really am thankful to be a part of the organization!

Please consider CSC for the website challenge. They really deserve it and would make very good use of it. I think with a better website they would be able to work more efficiently, and in turn help more families.

Thank You!

2011-02-23 01:12:36 UTC

Children's Safety Centers has been my employer for nearly four years. The staff and volunteers of CSC have been dreaming of a new web site for much longer than I've been around. During my intial application and interview process I reviewed the information on the website. The information was valuable and I was happy to have access to what was available. To be honest, studying the information on the web site really helped me land the job. Even if it wasn't intuitive to navigate and lacked visual appeal. There was no doubt in my mind that the work of CSC was crittically important to the families it serves. CSC has a reputation in the state for being an excellent and highly professional provider of visitation services. They deserve a web site that demonstrates the quality of the service they offer.

2011-02-23 15:57:16 UTC

I've worked for Children's Safety Centers for 16 months and am delighted to be part of such a bright, enthusiastic team of people who is so committed to the mission of the organization.

Unfortunately when you have limited funding, tough choices must be made, priorities focused on and spending money on a new website is not an option for CSC.

No doubt there are many non-profits worthy of this opportunity being offered by the Nerdery but in my own biased opinion creating a safe place for children deserves to be at the top of the list.

I hope you consider CSC for the website challenge because we really need it!!!

2011-02-23 20:57:01 UTC

I have worked and volunteered for Children's Safety Centers for over 10 years now. Throughout my time here, I have experienced many parents and children progress through the spectrum of services we offer. It has been amazing to watch/help parents and children to re-unite, re-build, and continue to grow in their relationships with one another.

Throughout this time I have also experienced the ever changing and increasing demands for Children's Safety Centers' electronic correspondence, registration, scheduling, donations, payment submissions and information on sevices and events. Being a Non- Profit with such a limited budget for additions and improvments, we haven't had the ablilty to best meet these requests from our Clients, Volunteers, Refferals, and Donors.

With this opportunity from the Nerdery, we could not only honor these requests, but have a fabulous new design and functionality that matches the Children's Safety Centers' drive to help families and our community.

2011-02-23 21:07:41 UTC
Nate Sessions

Children's Safety Centers is a non-profit organization where appreciation is deeply authentic at every level. This is seen and felt in many ways, from the children having opportunities to see their parents in a safe and positive environment as well as parents having the chance to see their children, to the small close knit staff appreciating the efforts of their overworked but always willing team members, and to the program staff appreciating and accepting any used toys, furniture, or other items in order to provide the best possible environment for the families that our budget can or cannot allow.

This brings me to my point. Children's Safety Centers is a place that relies nearly solely on the goodness of everyone to help and give in any way they can. This leaves CSC only with the results of their efforts in asking, and the whim of those willing to give or not to give. Often times this results in receiving used goods and makeshift solutions to problems that must therefore be cycled and changed over and over again.

Our website has been a constant challenge in this area, often times resulting in sub-par usage and effectiveness that does not match the efforts, dreams, and NEEDS of the organization.

That being said, I'm brought back to my first thought in writing this. A website would be a thing of deep authentic appreciation for everyone involved with CSC. Even more exciting, if CSC is chosen, the finished product is something we can all take a great deal of long lasting PRIDE in.

2011-02-24 15:23:29 UTC

I have been a client at the Childrens Safety Center since 2008. I absolutely love the service they provide for my family. Every single person that works there goes above and beyond to make things comfortable for everyone involved (children, parents, etc). They are genuinely caring people and are always looking for things to make their organization more beneficial to the families that utilize their services. My personal experience with them has given me endless amounts of respect for everyone involved. At one point, selfless staff members had even accommodated me in a scheduling conflict I was facing with the use of their own personal resources, outside the scope of the Childrens Safety Center. This alone has shown me that they are not in this for anything but the children and their families and for the better of the community. I cannot say enough positive things about the Childrens Safety Center, the ENTIRE staff and the service they provide to so many families. Not just because of the service they provide for my family, but the many families I have witnessed on many different levels of their programs. The kids there are always happy. My children absolutely love the staff and the positive environment they provide. And they feel a sense of security with the Childrens Safety Center that makes everything easier in difficult situations. Many conflicts are avoided on a daily basis with families through the use of their services, be it helping with communication, helping establish relationships between families or just providing a safe place to do an exchange for the children. With the St Paul site and the Lakeville site, they provide such an incredible service to the entire Metro area that cannot be praised enough.

It would be such a wonderful contribution to have the Childrens Safety Center’s website overhauled by the Nerdery. I would definitely benefit as a client. I would love if I could make payments online through their site, check for any schedule changes or even have an appealing place to send people that want to contribute to the organization. After all, being non-profit, that is what they rely on most…the generosity of the public and people that want to help such a wonderful cause.

2011-02-24 18:14:45 UTC
Julie La Fleur

As an attorney practicing only in family law, the Children’s Safety Center has been an incredible and invaluable resource. Their services provide the safety and security not only for children, but also to all parties involved. The staff is incredibly accommodating yet firm on their policies and procedures. I have been involved in their services with cases involving abuse, chemical addiction and parenting time exchange services to avoid conflict. The staff appears to truly understand the nature of conflict in family law matters and families in crisis plus the complexities of domestic abuse.

I am confident that an interactive website would be greatly appreciated by not only clients but also the Ramsey County family law bar. Families in crisis often need immediate resources. In addition, issue such as scheduling and payment can be mitigated. Online scheduling should also free up valuable human resources as well. Access to additional information and forms help educate not only client, but other family members, attorneys, the courts and others involved with families in crisis. Their current website while well intended, really needs to be improved upon.

2011-02-24 19:18:42 UTC

I have worked for Children’s Safety Centers since it first opened its doors for services in 1993. I have had opportunities to move on, but I chose to stay at CSC because I have seen the positive impact it has had on parents and children. During the past 18 years I have been blessed to be a part of an organization that has provided life changing services to parents and children. As the client services coordinator, I have been the recipient of many of the letters of appreciation that parents have submitted to CSC. Many of these letters detail how the center made them feel safe and how it provided a much needed place for their children to visit them or the other parent without parental conflicts. One parent even submitted a poem for which she gave me permission to share. She wrote the following:

“Children Safety Centers is a safe place for visitation and exchanges”

Kindness you have displayed
My fears you have allayed
When I was truly dismayed
For my Happiness you prayed
Thanks must now be conveyed
For the compassion you portrayed

In conclusion, Children’s Safety Centers is an awesome agency and with an awesome website we would be able to help many more children and parents. Thank you for considering Children’s Safety Centers for the Overnight Website Challenge.

2011-02-25 16:38:39 UTC

I have had the honor and priviledge to work for Children's Safety Center for nearly 7 years. I have seen firsthand the positive results and the reason for our existance. There is nothing greater in the world than knowing you have contributed to the growth and happiness of a family. The feeling you get when a kid runs into the Center and smiles and calls you by your first name, or when a parent looks you in the eye and says: "Thank you." These experiences are second to none!

The crew at CSC is so very dedicated and invested in the work we do. A new website is critical in our mission to continue providing top notch services. Improving the lives of our clients is important and providing convenient and up-to-date access to our services and resources is essential.

If you choose CSC, I am confident that you too will experience that "feeling" that we get to experience every day!

Our Mission

The mission of Children's Safety Centers is to provide a safe haven for children and adults during parental visitation.