Welcome to the CWDS Frequently Asked Questions site.

The FAQ will be updated frequently as more questions arrive.

What is CWS-CARES?

CWS-CARES is the Child Welfare Services-California Automated Response and Engagement System. This system will be a replacement of the highly-distributed, outdated CWS-CMS legacy system (Child Welfare System-Case Management System) when it is rolled out, in waves, over the next few years. The Child Welfare Services-California Automated Response and Engagement System (CWS-CARES) Project will greatly improve the ability to serve at-risk children. It will provide an automated child welfare system with the capabilities that include mobile and web based technology to support the current and future business practice needs of the counties and the State in a more effective, efficient and economical manner. The new system will support evolving child welfare programs, business processes and legislated improvements focused on protecting the safety of children and families.

How is this project funded?

The Department of Social Services (CDSS) working collaboratively with the Office of Systems Integration (OSI) and the County Welfare Directors Association (CWDA) developed the CWS-CARES Project Feasibility Study Report (FSR) which presents all aspects of conducting the CWS-CARES Project to replace the current Child Welfare Services/Case Management System (CWS/CMS). The project received approval of the Feasibility Study Report (FSR) by the California Technology Agency (now renamed Department of Technology) on January 10, 2013 and with the release of the State Budget Act of 2013, the project officially launched on July 1, 2013. On April 1, 2014, the Department of Technology approved a Special Project Report (#1) that provides updates to the project schedule, costs and resources.

What is Agile and why are we using it on CWS-CARES?

Agile software development describes a set of values and principles for software development under which requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing cross-functional teams. It advocates adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, and continuous improvement, and it encourages rapid and flexible response to change. These principles support the definition and continuing evolution of many software development methods.

Some of the reasons we’ve decided to adopt the Agile approach are because of the value to be gained by having frequent and early opportunities for the customer to participate in system design, to seeing the work being developed and delivered iteratively and the ability to make decisions and changes throughout the entire design/development process; the ability to more quickly produce a basic version of working software which can be built upon in successive iterations; and by the strong sense of ownership by the customer while working extensively and directly with the project team throughout the project.

What are CWS-CARES Digital Services?

The CWS-CARES project is organized into teams called Digital Services. Each Digital Service is responsible for a particular product area of software development. These include:

Intake digital service will provide county Child Welfare Agencies an easy to navigate and efficient way to record and access information regarding child abuse, neglect, exploitation allegations, investigative findings and outcomes.

Certification, Approval and Licensing Services (CALS) digital service will provide state and county licensing and approval staff and managers with a simple and efficient tool for facility licensing, certifying and resource family home approval.

Case Management digital service will provide county Child Welfare Agencies a comprehensive, automated case management system that fully supports the child welfare practices and incorporates the functional requirements mandated by federal regulations.

Resource Management digital service will provide caseworkers a single, integrated database to search for goods or services that have been purchased or contracted out so clients can receive proper assistance in the most efficient and effective manner.

Court Processing digital service will enable CWDS to exchange data with court systems to facilitate improved information sharing between child welfare agencies, juvenile and adult courts, probation departments.

Eligibility digital service will provide an automated solution to determine Title IV-E eligibility. The regulatory reviews of the title IV-E Foster Care program determine whether children in foster care meet the federal eligibility requirements for foster care maintenance payments claimed on their behalf.

Financial Management digital services will provide an automated solution necessary to ensure accurate and timely financial record and transaction authorization, processing and reconciliation.

Administration digital service addresses the overall business organizational structure, staff management, and supporting tools, including forms and reports. This service manages state and county staff work and outcome measures that support California’s Child Welfare program. Counties administer their own users and roles via a super-user capability.