CWDS Bulletins

Video: Agile Coach Karen Bruns on the Daily Standup

Child Welfare Digital Services Agile Coach Karen Bruns talks about working on California’s first major technology project using Agile methodologies.

Digital Services

Child Welfare Digital Services
The 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.
The 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.
The 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.
The 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.
The Court Processing digital service will enable CWDS to exchange data with court systems.
The Eligibility digital service will provide an automated solution to determine Title IV-E eligibility.
The Financial Management digital services will provide an automated solution necessary to ensure accurate and timely financial record and transaction authorization, processing and reconciliation.
The 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.

CWDS Hiring DevOps Engineer, Case Management Product Owner

Child Welfare Digital Services (CWDS) has posted the following two job announcements:

DevOps Engineer

Under the direction of the Chief of Operations (DPM III), the DevOps Engineer (Systems Software Specialist II) contributes to the shared CWDS culture and vision by implementing and supporting cloud-based application infrastructure, as well as continuous integration and deployment automation. The DevOps Engineer supports CWDS by serving as the bridge between software development and operations teams.

See the job announcement here:

Case Management Product Owner

Under the direction of the Case Management Service Manager, the Product Owner (Sr. ISA) assumes responsibility for the day to day decisions for concept to delivery in development of software that meets user needs and solves real problems for resource family home approval and children’s residential facility licensing. The Product Owner guides and directs a team of software designers and developers to design, test, and deliver user-centered software using agile-based methodologies to meet the Service Manager’s vision and goals for the ultimate product.

See the job announcement here:

Solution Demo to be Held on May 22 @ 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 May 2017 

Date: Monday, May 22, 2017

Time: 2:00 pm, Pacific Daylight Time (San Francisco, GMT-07:00)


WebEx information:
Event address:
Event number: 663 251 041
Event password: soldemo

Audio conference: USA Toll +1-240-454-0879
Access code: 663 251 041

Why We Do What We Do

For many of us at Child Welfare Digital Services (CWDS), the names and stories of specific children remind us of why a new Child Welfare information system matters. However, not everyone at CWDS has personally known an at-risk child who had to leave a place he or she knows — right or wrong — as “home,” or tried to help that same traumatized child adjust to a new place in the care of strangers with unfamiliar rules and expectations. Nonetheless, we share a mission to support continuous quality improvement of California’s delivery of Child Welfare Services.

Child Welfare Services encompass the following objectives:

  • Prevent abuse and strengthen families
  • Remedy the effects of abuse or neglect
  • Provide for out-of-home care for children (foster care and relative home placements)
  • Provide for permanent alternatives for children from abusive homes (adoptions, legal guardianship, Kinship Care)

Child Welfare professionals help children whose living situation has become unsafe and dangerous.  These dedicated and hard-working people either attempt to stabilize the situation into one that is safe and appropriate for the child, supporting the child’s family with resources that prevent reoccurrence of the dangerous situation, or they have to make the hard decision to move a child to place where he or she will be safe.

In 2016, there were 494,062 reported allegations of child maltreatment in California. Of those, 70,859 were substantiated. That means that in 2016, approximately 8 children out of every 1,000 children in California were victims of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

During that same period, 53,749 were taken into “out-of-home” care. Of that number, we can expect one third to be in a permanent living situation within a year. A little over two-thirds will “achieve permanency” in two years. For the 32 percent of children in care who are between the ages of 1-5 years old, that’s nearly a lifetime.

Source: Center for Social Services Research University of California at Berkeley School of Social Welfare

Source: Center for Social Services Research University of California at Berkeley School of Social Welfare

Research shows that sustained periods of instability and uncertainty for a child can damage his or her ability to weather the rest of life’s ordinary challenges in a healthy way. Children who experience continuing trauma often find it harder to make constructive contributions to our shared future and society.

So how does a new information system help?

It might not be obvious how replacing the antiquated systems currently used to track Child Welfare Services and outcomes will make a difference to the real life children represented by these statistics. We do know more computing isn’t the answer. But freeing up dedicated and skilled Child Welfare professionals to interact and engage fully with the children and families they’re serving could be. We see and hear it in our user research now: Currently, Child Welfare professionals spend way too much time filling out forms or inputting data into disconnected and duplicative systems, just to keep track of their caseloads and meet reporting requirements.

Data management and analytics are essential to understanding and improving the ways we provide Child Welfare Services to achieve the goals of child and family safety, well-being, and permanency. A new system that is better at capturing and managing data will give Child Welfare agencies better information about what interventions have the best results. And that’s worthwhile.

But our most compelling vision for the new system we are building is that it will be technology that gets out of the way and frees up social workers to do what only they can do. That’s how we at CWDS will make a difference to real life children. When we’re successful, we’ll give their caseworkers more time to protect them from harm, to ensure that they are in safe, loving and permanent homes, or to support their families into healthy relationship.

If you would like to see what we are building, follow our progress at  If you would like to be part of building it, watch our Job Opportunities at

About the Author:   Phoebe DeMund is the Service Manager for the Certification, Approval, and Licensing Service (CALS)


Core Counties Train for Usability Testing

This week, county users were in Sacramento for important training on the CWDS Intake Module.  Guided by user-centered design principles, each digital service works with teams from six counties, designated as Core Counties, to help design the system and inform important decisions.

Core County representatives spent two days at CWDS headquarters learning how to conduct research and usability testing, skills they will  take to the field to gather user behavior patterns that will help the design process.

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.  By the end of the project, most counties will have had a chance to serve as a Core County working on one of the eight modules.

The Intake Module covers the spectrum of Emergency Response – from the time a report of child abuse comes into the hotline through the work done by a CPS social worker to investigate these allegations of child abuse and neglect.

CWDS Update: April 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 April 2017 report below:

CWDS Update April 2017 (pdf)

June 1: AgileGovCon 2017

Register now to attend AgileGovCon 2017 on June 1.

See details at:

When: June 1, 2017    10am – 1:30pm PT / 1pm – 4:30pm ET

Where: Online event – attend from anywhere. Register (FREE) for attendance details!

This virtual conference is designed to promote real-time conversation and learning around agile government:

Lightning talks and panel discussions by agile government practicioners.

Virtual networking with peers and speakers in the online hangout room.

Practical agile tips and best practices to bring to your organization.

Child Welfare Digital Services Legislative Update

Child Welfare Digital Services produces a monthly report for the Legislature and stakeholders to follow as the project works to replace the CWS/CMS legacy system.

Click here to read the May 2017 report online.

Workspace Innovation

Child Welfare Digital Services (CWDS) occupies a campus in Sacramento that we have expressly built to maximize collaboration and reduce costs. CWDS worked with the California Department of General Services Real Estate Leasing and Planning Section to design a workspace that would be conducive to the needs of agile development teams at equal or lower cost than traditional office build-outs.

When we started organizing CWDS, we decided that one of the really important barriers we had to overcome is that staff don’t collaborate in the public sector the way they do in the private sector. So we had to look at the environment: our office. People need to have the mobility to move around and participate in conversations, participate in working design sessions, and be able to carve out time for themselves to do their own personal work.

One of the things I really want our organization to do is to own its own destiny. We put together a design team and we asked them to come up with ideas. They chose “innovation” and “fun” as themes. For our big collaborative work spaces, they selected the names of famous innovators such as Nicola Tesla and others who we thought had done something amazing. They also recognized that we need to have fun in the workplace. So it is this mixture of serious innovation and serious fun.

I see that conversation is occurring as a part of the natural dynamics every day. That makes me think we are on the right path to collaboration and increased productivity as a mainstay of our workspace.

About the Author: Peter Kelly is Chief Deputy Director for the Office of Systems Integration.