CWDS Bulletins

Video: Solution Demo: June 19, 2017

CWDS conducts monthly Solution Demonstrations to provide all stakeholders with an overview of our latest system developments. On June 19, 2017, the Intake Digital Service Team provided an update on their progress, watch the video online.

Video: 18F Co-Founder and Presidential Innovation Fellow Robert L. Read on Agile in Government

On Monday, June 12, Child Welfare Digital Services (CWDS) and the California Office of Systems Integration (OSI) hosted a brown bag lunch with 18F co-founder and 2013 Presidential Innovation Fellow Robert L. Read, PhD, an expert in agile methodology in government.  Watch an hour-long video of the presentation online:

California Conducting National Search for Agile Development Chief

California is recruiting for a chief to lead development on one of its highest profile systems, the Child Welfare Digital Services project to replace a 20 year-old legacy system used by case workers across the state’s 58 counties.  Using open source software, agile methodologies and user-centered design, the project is embarking on an innovative new approach for California state government.

“All eyes are on this demonstration project, California’s first major effort using agile methodologies which represents a fundamental shift in the way state government approaches technology,” said Office of Systems Integration Director John Boule.  “A year and a half ago we abandoned the decade-old monolithic approach on this project, in favor of a modern, innovative strategy modeled after examples in the private sector and more recent success stories in the federal government.

“Case workers need modern, effective tools that allow them to spend more time in the field protecting children and less time in an office, in front of a computer,” Boule continued.  “A talented development chief will appreciate our clients’ needs and drive our team to produce the highest quality replacement system.”

In November of 2015, the project changed its development strategy from the traditional “waterfall” approach to using agile methodologies which focus on iterative development cycles and a rapid feedback loop with end-users.  Agile teams work in two-week sprints with daily status meetings to measure progress.  The new approach includes DevOps teams, placing a strong emphasis on collaboration between network engineers, developers, business program managers and state and county subject matter experts.

“Other states are watching as we use open source code as a public good that can be freely copied by government agencies and the public at large,” said Peter Kelly, Chief Deputy Director for the Office of Systems Integration, the agency overseeing the project.   “We are looking for an accomplished technology professional who can get the job done in California, and who understands the greater potential and impact of this project.”

Child Welfare Digital Services is reaching beyond California to find candidates to fill this role, classified as an official state position to oversee all application development activities on the project.  More details on the Development Chief position can be found here.

The project consists of eight digital services, or modules, to replace the legacy system that manages casework for county child protective services programs, foster home approvals and licensing, and other critical functions that allow case workers to protect children.   With the project’s first code release in March, teams of state staff and contractors, including designers, developers and project managers, have been working to get started under the new approach.  Momentum is building as more developer teams will be hired in the coming months.

The effort to replace the legacy CWS/CMS system began in 2004 with the Go Forward Plan to modernize the system, leading to the CWS Web project, approved in 2006. The California Legislature suspended the project in 2011, due to budget constraints, and required a study of CWS/CMS to answer specific question related to the existing system and approaches to address missing functionality. The Child Welfare Services – New System (CWS-NS) project received budget approval to move forward in July 2012.      

Implementation Update

The CWDS Implementation Team recently invited over 300 CWDS stakeholders to attend one of seven “CWDS Implementation Overview” meet-and-greet sessions. Those notified included Child Welfare Services and Probation Single Points of Contact (SPOCs), Technical Contacts, and Training Contacts from all 58 California counties, Kurok and Yurok Tribe contacts, CWS/CMS Regional User Group Chairs, and 6 CWS/CMS training academies. The CWDS Implementation Team conducted the seven sessions during the week of May 29. The purpose was to share high-level information about the implementation approach, identify some of the activities involved during implementation readiness, and provide a way for the participants to contact us and access project materials. The agenda specifically covered the following topics:
  1. What is Implementation?
  2. Why is Implementation Important?
  3. How do we Communicate?
  4. How can you Prepare for Implementation?
  5. What’s Next?
  6. How to Contact Us
  7. Q&A
In all, we had over 75 participants who officially RSVP’d and many more who called in at their convenience. Thirty-seven counties were represented along with three RTAs. During the sessions, the CWDS Implementation Team received questions; most of which fall into the categories below:
  1. System training/Training-the-Trainer (TTT)/Staff or End-User Training.
  2. More information about the Contractor Implementation Lead (IL) who will support each “Org” (which is the general name for the entities receiving implementation services).
  3. Implementation dates and timeframes.
  4. Access to the PPT used during the sessions and the recordings of each of the 7 sessions.
Coming Soon:  The CWDS Implementation Team will post the presentation, all 7 of the recorded sessions, and the full Q&A list to the Implementation Portal in the next couple of weeks. Remember that a CWS/CMS User Login is needed to access the Implementation Portal.

CWDS Update: May 2017

Child Welfare Digital Services produces a monthly report for the Legislature and stakeholders to follow as the project works to replace the CMS/CWS legacy system. Read the May 2017 report online: CWDS Update May 2017

CWDS Recruiting for Development Chief

Child Welfare Digital Services (CWDS) is recruiting for a Development Chief to oversee a combination of state staff and contractor software development teams.  The goal of CWDS is to design and develop a suite of web applications to replace the legacy mainframe-based Child Welfare Services Case Management System.  As California’s premiere technology project utilizing Agile methodology, CWDS is embarking on a groundbreaking initiative based on the principles of user-centered design and iterative development.

The deadline to apply is June 15th.  Read more details here:  

Solution Demo to be Held on June 19 @ 2 PM

CWDS conducts monthly Solution Demonstrations to provide all stakeholders with an overview of our latest system developments.  Please join us via the following WebEx meeting using the link below.

CWDS Solution Demo June 2017
Date: Monday, June 19, 2017
Time: 2:00-3:00 pm, Pacific Daylight Time (San Francisco, GMT-07:00)

WebEx information:
Event number: 663 823 903 Event password: Dem62017 Event address:

Audio conference information
USA Toll: +1-240-454-0879
Access code: 663 823 903

Graph: CWDS Digital Services Delivery, Sandbox

Later this year, CWDS plans to launch a “sandbox” for the public to see features in the new system.  While the child welfare system can only be accessed by authorized personnel whose job is to protect children, the sandbox will give the public a view into the new system using demonstration data.

Below is a chart that shows the delivery cycle for software features deployed into production.  The project’s eight modules will be launched in stages, with ongoing enhancements to be deployed on the modern infrastructure that will offer a vastly improved user experience.

The blue boxes on the left side of the graph represent the research, design and development of products in partnership with Core Counties , on behalf of users across the state.   The green boxes represent finished code that has been deployed.

As the project gets ready to deploy software to the counties, each county will have its own implementation lead to guide and support implementation readiness activities in the areas of project management, communications, data cleansing, organizational change management (OCM), staff training, and technical readiness. 

Key Points from This Week’s Meeting with Southern California County Directors

On May 25th, the CWDS team visited the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services to provide an update on the child welfare legacy system replacement project.   In a meeting with child welfare directors representing eight counties across Southern California, the team answered questions on some key topics, including:
  • The Child Welfare Digital Services project plans to achieve full functionality of the existing system by 2020, when the legacy system is scheduled to be decommissioned.   The project’s eight modules will be launched in stages, with ongoing enhancements to be deployed on the modern infrastructure that will offer a vastly improved user experience.
  • Guided by user-centered design principles, each digital service works with teams from 4 to 6 counties, designated as Core Counties, to help design the system and inform important decisions.  Every county has the opportunity to serve as a Core County. As subject matter experts with years of experience working as case workers, Core County representatives are considered part of the CWDS project team.  They represent the user community throughout all 58 counties.
  • To help improve communication between counties and the project, CWDS is taking a more strategic approach to regular meetings so that important information can better reach county leadership. Starting in August, an hour-long, monthly meeting with CWDA and counties will be dedicated to discussing the new system.
  • A publicly available Sandbox will be available later this year to provide all county users visibility into the functionality of the new system.  The CWDS Implementation Team will work directly with counties, with an implementation lead assigned to guide and support implementation activities.
  • Policy questions, such as what impact pending legislation will have on the new system, are actively being coordinated between the County Welfare Directors Association (CWDA), the Department of Social Services and legislative staff at the State Capitol.   While project staff stays abreast of policy developments, CWDS developers, designers and managers are keenly focused on producing software to reach full system functionality by 2020, built on a modern platform designed for continuous future enhancements.

Video: Solution Demo: May 22, 2017

Child Welfare Digital Services conducts a monthly solution demo to provide all stakeholders with an overview of our latest system developments.  Watch the video from May 22, 2017 online: