Technicity Times
    Issue 3• June 2003

A Smart Card

The Community College Foundation Goes National with ePassport

By Terri Kletzman

The Community College Foundation has created ePassport, a Smart Card internet-based health and education data tracking system, to provide a simplified means for youth in foster care to access and update their records any time and any place. Since 1983, The Community College Foundation has served thousands of foster youth through the Independent Living Program and other emancipation programs. One theme that continued to reappear during our work with foster youth was the desperate need for a secure and accurate repository for foster youth records. This need became apparent in two distinct areas: the millions of dollars lost on duplicative services, such as over-immunization and manual record pulls and secondly, the peril faced by the foster youth due to lost or missing records.

Foster youth are unique in that they are a highly mobile population. A child may change residences as much as three times in one year. ePassport provides a simplified and very tangible vehicle for that youth to access his records at all times, regardless of his living situation. The Community College Foundation is currently running three successful ePassport pilot programs throughout California and is looking forward to implementing a national pilot.
Five years ago, there were about a quarter of a million children in US foster care systems. Today that number has soared to more than 550,000. Statistical information on foster youth is virtually non-existent.

ePassport is a Smart Card internet-based health and education data tracking system created by The Community College Foundation. A Smart Card is a credit card sized plastic card embedded with a microprocessor. It provides not only memory capacity, but computational capability as well.
The primary advantage of the Smart Card is its tamper proof security feature.
Smart Cards contain 16 kilobytes of programmable ROM. The card uses a serial interface and receives power from a card reader.

Caseworker adds data to youth's ePassport card

The youth is initially assigned a card by a social worker assigned to his care. He or she creates a card using ePassport software and a Smart Card reader. Everyone involved in the youth's care updates the youth's critical information in the same way. So for example, if he visits the doctor and receives immunizations, the doctor's office would use ePassport software, update his information, synchronize that to a server and return the child's ePassport Smart Card to him with the new information. The school can then use ePassport to verify proof of immunization, rather than delaying enrollment because of missing paperwork.

Even if a card is misplaced or damaged, the data is encrypted and archived on the server and any official with access rights and the proper password can still retrieve the information associated with that child. The purpose of this system is to link all agencies involved in the child's care, empower foster youth and increase the chances for successful emancipation.

ePassport has been created with a novice computer user in mind. Teachers, health care providers, social workers, care givers - all individuals involved the youth's well being can participate in contributing data to ePassport.

The cost benefit of ePassport is clear: the reported yearly cost to care for foster youth in the US is $7 billion and much of these funds are wasted on duplicative services such as over-immunization and manual record pulls due to lost or missing records.


There are other impressive features offered by this Smart Card solution including ePurse and Time and Attendance. The card can function as an electronic payment card. This "ePurse" allows the youth to avoid the inconvenience of cash or checks by storing a pre-paid and reloadable monetary value directly on the Smart Card. This is particularly useful for low cost purchases.

The Time and Attendance Smart Card solution is currently in use at The Community College Foundation headquarters. This feature allows collection and distribution of attendance hours and security access control. This usage is particularly interesting to schools that receive funding based on student attendance.

For more information about ePassport contact: The Community College Foundation (916) 418-5100, epassport@communitycollege.org.


Terri Kletzman is Program Manager for the Community College Foundation. She can be reached at tkletzman@communitycollege.org.

 

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