May 2018,  OneVoice CSDA Newsletter

Texting Pilot Program Gets Underway in Contra Costa County

By Melinda Self, Director, Contra Costa County DCSS

It’s been twenty-six years since the first text was sent, and texting and mobile technology have become synonymous with daily life. A large portion of the population now owns a mobile phone and most of these consumers keep their phone within arm’s reach at all times. As a result, reading and responding to messages associated with appointment reminders and other types of information is much more convenient through text messaging than most other mediums. Given that, Contra Costa County and Riverside County have moved forward with a pilot program to enhance communication efforts with customers using a text-messaging product from Contact Wireless known as TxtPagePro.

The pilot in Contra Costa officially kicked off in March 2018 and utilizes CA DCSS approved texting scripts to provide short and informative text messages to customers regarding a variety of issues. Some of the pilot projects underway include appointment reminders for genetic testing; notifications to non-custodial parents when served with a summons & complaint; and “contact us” messages for cases that have been delinquent for a long period of time, and for newly opened cases with court orders for child support that encourage the person paying support to make contact with the caseworker to discuss the case.

TxtPagePro allows for one-to-one texting with customers as well as for groups up to 100. The product is fairly straight forward and very easy to use. It can take a text message and/or script and translate it to Spanish. All scripts and initial texts to customers include “Text Stop to end messages.” If the customer does text back “Stop,” their number will automatically go onto a blacklist and will no longer be able to receive any further text messages. Some of the business rules established for the pilot project require the LCSA to respond to text messages on the same business day. When texts are received at the close of business the LCSA must respond as soon as practicable but not later than the following business day. Caseworkers are also required to ensure that all text messages are memorialized in a CSE Activity Log.

The program is truly a pilot now and more data will be needed over the upcoming months to determine whether or not texting will prove to be successful enough to roll out statewide. However, because of its prevalence and popularity among consumers, it’s likely that texting will be a beneficial tool to help us further engage and communicate with our customers.