Agencies have the ability to configure and use multiple Online Referral Module (ORM) profiles. You can create a profile that would allow parents to do free searches and a separate profile for searches with a fee. Additionally, profiles can be setup for companies that may want to make this available to their employees and have the profile branded with their logo.
The following tips suggest Best Practices for agencies configuring their ORM profile(s).
When setting up access restrictions, consider what happens to clients accessing the ORM under these restrictions. How do you want to handle clients who are unable to login once they’ve reached their limit? If their time has expired, a counselor can change the expiration date. If the number of searches has reached the limit, the action log can be edited. Consider the possibility that the client will register with a new e-mail address creating two records for the same client. Include a statement in the login screen header or footer that explains what parents should do if they’ve reached the limit on their searches or the time to run them.
An agency should consider having one disclaimer that is applicable to printed and online referrals. This may mean refining the current agency disclaimer so it includes the ORM search. You may want to include hotlinks to licensing/regulatory agencies in the disclaimer.
If you are unable to include your Website’s navigation menu on the ORM screens, at the very least include a link to your Home page so clients can return to your website Home page from any ORM screen. Other helpful links to include might be your “Choosing Child Care” information. Placing these in the universal header assures the parent has access to them from any screen.
Include instructions for each particular screen. For example, in the login header the client should be instructed according to whether they are a new or returning client. You may want to include links for free e-mail, remind them of the password case sensitivity, and let them know about the Lost Password feature.
In the Client Data Collect header you may want a short explanation on the value of the information provided, especially if the online search is free.
In the Basic Results, Detailed Results, and Saved Providers footers, add your disclaimer if it’s not in the universal footer. This way, if the results are printed, the disclaimer is included.
A Profile Filter can act as a safeguard for the “Web Referrals” field. A query can be added which includes or excludes providers from search regardless of whether they are marked “Give Web Referrals”.
Client Data Collection
When deciding on your data collection policy (whether the client is added to NACCRRAware as Active or Pending status), consider your actions afterwards. If you will be changing all clients to Active status anyway, set the policy “Save client data” to start. Before using the “Requires approval before storage” policy keep in mind that those ORM clients will not be included in any custom search or custom report results, and standard report results for active clients until their status is changed to Active.
When choosing the fields for the data collection form, consider carefully how much data you NEED to collect. Many clients will be turned away from lengthy forms with required fields asking for a lot of personal information. Think quality versus quantity here.
Limit the number of fields available to clients for their search so the client has success and not constant failure. Unlike trained and experienced counselors, clients may not realize which search fields to change. Add just enough fields to the Basic search that allow parents to narrow their searches, then add more detailed search fields to the Search Filter. This allows parents to get some referrals but narrow it down if there are too many.
Put a limit on the number of providers displayed on each page of the search results keeping in mind that each page viewed adds those providers to the client’s previous referrals list.
Do a practice referral and print your results – ideally, you should be able to print one page of providers to one or two pages on the printer.
It’s also suggested that you add a message encouraging parents to contact your CCR&R office if they experience any difficulties in their search or have questions about the provider referrals.
Protecting Your Provider Data
Protecting the data given by the ORM referral process should also be a consideration of each agency providing an online search tool. As with any online application or feature there is always a potential for abuse. For the ORM this may include users searching for and downloading child care provider data for purposes other than finding child care. There are a couple of recommendations for helping to prevent this potential, and they include:
- Publishing a disclaimer on the login page for acceptable usage. This may provide recourse should you need to pursue legal action.
- Setting a limit on the number of times the search button can be pressed, and/or the amount of time a client has to search, before the account is locked out
Monitoring Usage of the ORM
Monitoring the activity of clients using the ORM can be done by using the standard reports to review detailed activity of ORM users (Basic ORM report, Action Log Detail report) and/or build and use agency specific custom reports. If suspicious activity is found, agencies can take action by terminating access to the ORM Profile for a specific account, changing the authentication type requirement for an ORM Profile so only specific users may use it, and/or setting an expiration date for the ORM profile itself. Agencies can also work with NACCRRA if any abuse continues.
A large majority of clients will not be opening your Help window but those that do will not want to read a training manual. Keep your Help tips short and simple. You may want to include important tips on each screen as well rather than hiding them in Help.
After setting up your ORM profile, it’s a good idea to test drive it yourself from the beginning (click Register even if you already added a test record during setup). Make sure everything looks like it should. After running the search and getting results, do a test printout of both the Basic and Advanced results’ screens to make sure the fields lay out nicely and fit on the page. When you’re satisfied with your testing, share the profile URL with others and have them do the same. Ask people with little or no knowledge of child care resource and referral to test it as well and ask for feedback on how easy it is to use and understand. Finally, when you’ve added the link to your website, ask those same people to visit your home page and do a final test. If parents cannot easily find the link on your Home page, all your work has been done for naught.