Latest Posts

CALS Core Counties Participate in Usability Study

This week CALS core counties visited CWDS Headquarters to participate in a usability study. The collaborative session included further developing the RFA form-to-form navigation concept and pre-submission workflow processes. This will allow CWS-CARES to streamline the online forms, speed up the application process and reduce workload for the approval service. CALS digital service is the team that 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.

E.K. Associates Awarded Contract with CWDS Project

Child Welfare Digital Services (CWDS) has selected E.K. Associates to provide Service Desk support for resolving events, incidents, problems, and requests. CWDS envisions a new Service Desk support model that provides quicker response times to user problems with clear procedures for who to contact when service is unavailable. This new CWDS Service Desk will consist of both State and Contractor resources reporting to Zack Souza, CWDS Service Desk Manager.

CWDS expects the level of support to remain the same for Coexistent and Dedicated Counties. For Coexistent Counties, severity level 1 support will continue to be conducted by each organizations’ local IT support desk. For Dedicated Counties that do not have an existing local IT support desk, the new CWDS Service Desk will be implemented to provide severity level 1 and 2 support. The local IT support desk will refer unresolved CWS-CARES incidents to the new CWDS Service Desk for resolution.

CWS-CARES’ first code release, in March 2017, came six months before the selection and award of a system integrator, and two-to-three years before any working software would have occurred under the previous monolithic “waterfall” approach.

CWDS is pioneering the development and operation across a variety of environments to develop web/mobile applications, underlying technology platform, data architecture, and associated cloud infrastructure with diverse engineering teams utilizing an agile methodology based on the principles of user-centered design and iterative development. CWDS follows the practice of DevOps to provision, operate, and manage distributed application systems on the AWS elastic cloud infrastructure, and leverages free/open source technology including Java, Ruby on Rails, PostgreSQL. All code produced by the CWS-CARES project is licensed as open source.

Jan. 23: CWDS Guest Speaker: Emily Putnam-Hornstein, PhD on Predictive Analytics

Please join us for an engaging discussion with Emily Putnam-Hornstein, PhD, about Predictive Analytics and its applications for Child Welfare.

Emily Putnam-Hornstein, co-director of the Children’s Data Network at the University of Southern California, is leading a team of researchers to build and test a data analytics tool to help child abuse investigators gauge the risk of maltreatment when a report of child abuse or neglect is made.

Learn all about the Predictive Risk Modeling Project and its potential impact on Child Welfare in California at our next CWDS Noon Speaker Series! This event will be video recorded and later posted online to our CWDS YouTube channel

When: Tuesday, Jan. 23, Noon – 1PM

Where: Child Welfare Digital Services (CWDS)

2870 Gateway Oaks Drive
Sacramento, CA 95833

More about our speaker:

Emily Putnam-Hornstein, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work where she directs the Children’s Data Network, university-agency collaborative focused on the linkage of administrative data to inform children’s policies and programs. She also maintains a research appointment at the UC Berkeley California Child Welfare Indicators Project – a longstanding child welfare data and research collaboration with the California Department of Social Services. Emily’s research focuses on the integration and analysis of cross-sector administrative records, including the real-time use of administrative records and predictive risk modeling as a tool for advancing data-driven decision-making by social service agencies.


Mark your calendar! The next CWDS Quarterly Stakeholder Forum is on Jan. 9

Child Welfare Digital Services will host a Quarterly Stakeholder Forum on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 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 presentations by CWDS digital service teams.  See the day's agenda below.

The event will be live webcast via the CWDS website at

Click here to view and download the presentation slides. Alternatively, follow the event via WebEx (audio webinar).  See more details here.  

Event number: 669 947 633
Event password: January2018


Agenda Item



Opening Remarks

Penni Clarke              Tony Fortenberry

Kevin Gaines

10:00 am – 10:15 am

Product Discussion

Moderated by Bill Maile

James Weaver

Steve Trimble

10:15 am – 10:50 am

Case Management Presentation

Cindy Vatalaro            Sonoltra Sanchez

10:50 am – 11:15 am

Intake Demonstration

Wendy Christian             Jeff Dent

11:15 am – 11:40 am



11:40 am – 1:00 pm

Implementation Presentation

Kalani Mertyris               

1:00 pm – 1:25 pm

CALS Demonstration

Phoebe DeMund            Leon Elzie

1:25 pm – 1:50 pm

Courts Presentation

Louis Cretaro                   Karen Hanna

1:50 pm – 2:15 pm

Design Lightening Talk Julia Schaumburg  2:15 pm - 2:25 pm

Panel Discussion

Moderated by Bill Maile

CWDS Leadership 

2:25 pm – 3:00 pm

Zack Souza named CWDS Service Desk Manager on CWS-CARES Project

On January 2, 2018, Zack Souza joined OSI/CWDS as the Service Desk Manager on the CWS-CARES Project. As the Service Desk Manager, Zack leads a team of 24/7 service desk specialists providing top tier support to CWS-CARES users.

Previously, Zack worked for California Department of Public Health (CDPH) as an Application Support Manager supporting a nationwide application for health care evaluator nurse/surveyors. He has worked for State of California since 2012 and in the information technology field for 18 years.

Zack earned his Bachelor of Government from Sacramento State, and a Master of Business Administration from University of Phoenix. He is also a graduate of the Information Technology Leadership Academy (ITLA 22) class of 2014-15, and holds a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

When not at work, Zack serves as the District Director of Toastmasters District 39. District 39 is a 501C3 non-profit, spans northern California & northern Nevada, and serves 3,000 members. A Toastmaster since 2004, Zack has attained the Distinguished Toastmaster designation—the highest level of educational achievement in the organization. Please join us in welcoming Zack to the team.

CWDS Seeks Senior Content Strategist

Become CWDS’ Senior Content Strategist and help determine the voice and tone of the one of the largest child welfare case management systems in the country. In this role you will be working directly with digital service creators and end-users throughout the entire design and development process. You will be responsible for researching and creating CWDS content strategy style guides, user experience writing for content requirements and creating content strategy deliverables across various digital service teams. Your research deliverables will further inform information architecture and data organizational strategy. Learn more by reading the full job description and bulletin online.

CWDS is designing, developing and implementing a new and innovative system, called CWS-CARES, that replaces a 20 year-old legacy system used by child welfare case workers across the state’s 58 counties. Our project uses free and open source software, Agile methodologies and user-centered design principles and is seeking talented professionals who can develop and manage content in this environment.

We are seeking high-level thinkers who are also standout idea generators and problem solvers with excellent communication and organizational skills. This position requires strong analytical abilities necessary to gather key business and user insights, who can apply their strategic planning skills to create a long-term vision for the content generation.

You will join a team of 12 researchers and designers and work closely with product owners, stakeholders, policy, and data scientists to create, curate and manage content. This position is located in beautiful Sacramento, California, in our modern, open-plan, collaborative workspaces. To learn more about the team’s approach, see the Design Team Wiki. Sign up for the CWDS newsletter to get future project updates.

Monthly Report: CWDS Update - November 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.

Click here to read the November 2017 report online. 

CWDS Welcomes New Product Management Advisors

CWDS today announced the addition of James Weaver and Kaitlin Devine to the project. Both are scheduled to start within the next week and will serve as product management advisors. Their focus will be on process implementation, agile project management, and software delivery.

Mr. Weaver has 20 years of leadership experience specializing in software development and strategy, business intelligence, project management, operational streamlining, business development, and implementation. His IT work specializes in product strategy, agile software development, DevOps, and information architecture. Mr. Weaver’s most recent assignment was with one of the healthcare industry's first SaaS providers, revamping software development processes and building out its DevOps organization. Prior to that, he oversaw development of multiple reporting and analytics solutions with onshore and offshore teams, for a software company specializing in healthcare safety and operational efficiency. During his tenure with this company, Mr. Weaver led its first agile teams during a companywide adoption of the methodology.

Ms. Devine also brings years of IT leadership experience to the team. Currently, she works for the General Services Administration’s digital consultancy, 18F, where she served as a Python engineer and expert on contracting data until she became the first 18F Director of Engineering. Serving on 18F’s senior management team, Ms. Devine created infrastructure for all the major functions of the software engineering team, including recruitment and hiring, code standards and best practices, intra-team mentoring and education, and team management, including a new team structure and peer review process. After spearheading the 18F engineering team, she went on detail to Treasury as a product owner for the implementation of the first federal open data law, the DATA act. As product owner of two major software products (an internal agency reporting website and the external, public-facing website and API), Ms. Devine directed the software product and technical strategy end-to-end.

Register for the CWDS Newsletter to receive future project updates and follow our progress. 

HHS Technology Group Awarded Contract with CWDS Project

Child Welfare Digital Services (CWDS) has selected HHS Technology Group from the state’s Agile Development Pre-Qualified (ADPQ) vendor pool to work on the Case Management digital service. Case Management is the largest of eight services under development to create the system that will replace the existing Child Welfare Services / Case Management System (CWS/CMS) used by county case workers across California.

The Case Management digital service will provide county child welfare agencies a comprehensive, automated case management system that fully supports effective child welfare practices, and incorporates the functional requirements mandated by federal regulations. It will provide state and county caseworkers, supervisors, staff and managers with a simple and efficient tool for maintaining a case record in a variety of situations, including: family needs assessments, court supervised or voluntary in-home services, foster care placement, family reunification services, and permanency planning services.

The project is pioneering the development and operation of cloud-based software in the public sector, utilizing Agile software development processes rather than a traditional design, development and implementation (DDI) / maintenance and operations (M&O) model. The project is taking an innovative new approach for California state government, using DevOps tools and processes, free/open source software (FOSS) and user-centered design.

The project’s first code release, in March 2017, came six months before the selection and award of a system integrator, and two to three years before any working software would have occurred under the previous monolithic “waterfall” approach.

Visit the CWDS Vendor Page for contract updates, and register for the CWDS Newsletter to follow our progress. 

Video: CWDS Solution Demo - Dec. 4

CWDS held a Solution Demonstration on Dec. 4 to provide stakeholders with an overview of the Snapshot tool, scheduled to roll out early next year. For more information about Snapshot and the CWDS Roadmap, visit our project dashboard.