CWDS Bulletins

Video: CWDS Intake Service Manager Wendy Christian on New System

As a 20-year veteran working in the child welfare system in Sacramento County, Wendy Christian is leading the Intake Module solution to create a system that will streamline the Child Protective Services hotline and investigations processes.  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.

At CWDS as Intake Service Manager, Wendy and her team are working with county users across the state to create the most effective interface to streamline workflow.  To date, project staff have conducted more than 300 interviews with county workers to help iterate and refine versions.  In the video below, she describes her work on the new system.

CWDS Recruiting for CALS Product Owner

Child Welfare Digital Services is currently recruiting to fill the position of Product Owner, a key role on the Certification, Approval, and Licensing Services (CALS) team that will help manage the design and development team to create the new module to support the regulation of foster care homes in California.

As a Product Owner working on California’s first major technology project using Agile methodology, you will work in an innovative, high-energy environment, collaborating with designers, developers, and other team members across the project to replace the legacy child welfare system.

Led by user-centered design principles, the Product Owner works directly with the Digital Service Manager to set the vision and priority for software development for CALS.

The Child Welfare Digital Services program, as part of the Office of Systems Integration offers free parking, in close proximity to downtown Sacramento (in the South Natomas area), an Agile working environment, a newly refurbished and innovative office space and working environment and a challenging opportunity to be part of an exciting program and team. Click here to apply!

Status Update on Intake Digital Service

This week, CWDS executives are briefing county stakeholders on the project’s Intake Digital Service, one (out of five) service that is currently the most advanced in development.  Intake is the beginning of the process where a case worker would decide how to respond to information provided through a hotline caller, such as an allegation of child abuse.  In designing the new system, product owners and developers are working with county users to create the most effective interface to streamline workflow. To date, project staff have conducted more than 300 interviews with county users to help iterate and refine versions. The graphic below gives an update on the development of the new Intake Digital Service.

Image: Slide 19 from the CWDS Legislative Quarterly Report. Click above to open the March 29, 2017 PPT presentation.


CALS Sprint Review

Certification, Approval, and Licensing Service (CALS) held a sprint review on April 5 to discuss their progress on the project. Click here to view the webinar.

Design Thinking Applied to Meetings


As CWDS User Research & Design Director, I often say “everything is experience design,” not just the digital services we are building, but also way we work together to deliver those services. Recently I shared at a recent All Staff Meeting to explain how our team has been able to leverage User Experience (UX) Design principles and techniques to improve the experience and   usefulness of the organizations All-Staff Meeting.

This announcement was the first of a newly revamped All Staff Meeting designed to make better use of staff time and connect us all to our product vision. CWDS Executives asked me to form an ad hoc team to redesign the meeting, which had over 100 attendees and had grown stale as our team had grown in size and mission. The ad hoc meeting redesign team included representatives from the Project Management Office (PMO), Communications Team, and the User Research and Design Team. Our first step was to identify the problem space: morale and attendance concerns, meeting format effectiveness, effort to produce the meeting vs benefits of holding it, and understanding who champions the meeting design.

The next step was identifying research goals: understanding attendees’ experience of what’s working and what isn’t, solicit improvement ideas, and relating the All-Staff to overall organizational communication. Research methods consisted of a “flash survey to get a quick pulse and set a quantitative baseline, and one-on-one user interviews with a dozen people representing different attendee groups from across the organization. The team then synthesized the research to surface pain points and insights.

Based on the research results and brainstorming ways to address the pain points and needs of attendees the Communications Team, is now empowered to  own the meeting, to creatively structure it  to address  themes in a now one-hour meeting to be held no more than once a month. The themes are:

  • Vision and Mission
  • Product Progress
  • Celebrate Our Team
  • Living Our Values/Culture
  • General Announcements

CWDS is excited to apply experience design principles to all areas of our operations, not just how we design and develop software for our users. It makes for a more engaged work environment where people are collaborative, accountable, and empowered.

About the Author:  

Jesse Taggert is the Director of User Research & Design at Child Welfare Digital Services.  She has more than 25 years of experience as a design leader, user researcher, ux designer, visual designer, and communications strategist.  Recently, she completed a two-year engagement serving the federal government as an Innovation Specialist/Strategist at 18F where she led the consulting group’s design and product strategy.

CWDS Update: March 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 March 2017 report below:

CWDS Update March 2017 (pdf)    


CWDS to Hold Quarterly Stakeholder Forum on April 11th

Child Welfare Digital Services (CWDS) will be hosting a Quarterly Stakeholder Forum on April 11, 2017 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.

This all-day event will be held onsite at the CWDS campus at 2870 Gateway Oaks Drive in Sacramento as well as via video conference. The agenda will include a general session with a project update and multiple breakout sessions focusing on Technology, Intake and Certification, Approval & Licensing Services (CALS), and other project related information.


10:00 am – 12:00 pm General Session & Monthly Solution Demo: April 2017
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Breakout Sessions:


  • Technology
  • Intake
  • Certification, Approval, & Licensing Services (CALS)

To register, please complete the survey (linked here) to indicate whether you will be able to join us in person, via webinar.

Materials from Previous Forums

CWDS Quarterly Stakeholder Forum Session Recordings & Materials – 1/10/2017
CWDS Quarterly Stakeholder Forum Agenda – 1/10/2017

CWDS eNewsletter

CWDS sends weekly project updates to stakeholders who subscribe to our newsletter. Click here to view this week's eNewsletter, or sign-up for future updates.

CWDS Quarterly Legislature Update FY2016/17 Q3

Child Welfare Digital Services produces a quarterly report for the Legislature and stakeholders to follow as the project works to replace the CWS/CMS legacy system. Click here to read the FY2016/17 Q3 report online.

CWDS Quarterly Legislative Briefing: FY2016/17 Q3

Each quarter, CWDS provides a project update to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.   Included in the most recent presentation, the slide below gives an overview of the project schedule since it switched to using agile methodology 15 months ago.  With the first release of software on March 16, the project is ahead of schedule which, under the traditional waterfall approach, would have released a Request for Proposal for a systems integration contractor in July. View the entire March 29, 2017 presentation below (PDF)