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Upcoming CWDS Quarterly Stakeholder Forum Rescheduled

The CWDS Quarterly Stakeholder Forum that was originally scheduled for April 10 is being rescheduled to new date, to be determined.

Thank you for your patience as we address ongoing audio issues at CWDS Headquarters to provide online listeners access to the event.

We will announce the new date as soon as possible. Please stay tuned and visit the CWDS website for the latest updates.

CALS Team Working to Enhance System Features

The CALS team is designing and prototyping software that supports the county and state business process for certifying, approving and licensing Resource Family Homes and Children’s Residential Facilities. Early development efforts have focused on the Resource Family Home application process, including support to users from intake of a new application through to decision to approve or deny. The first delivery from CALS is slated to be a standalone facility and home search that integrates results from CWS/CMS and LIS and FAS, which will allow users to view placements, compliance history, and current license or approval status for all state-licensed and county-approved placement resources.

CWDS Organizes DesignOps Team

The CWDS DesignOps team has organized as a centralized unit that will provide human-centered research and design services for all digital services across the project developing software to replace the child welfare legacy system.

As project staff previously assigned to individual digital services, the group is now officially formed with team members reporting up through one organization to operate as a collective, working on a common backlog prioritized by product leadership across the digital services. This change will give CWDS an enterprise-wide view of important features that will help the project deliver world class software and expedite the deployment of CWS-CARES.

The team is led by Gregg Hill as Product Owner. Members include: Alyssa Burke, Robert Chilton, Christy Dunwoodie, Danny Eck, Geoff Heath, Antoinette Houston, Matt Johnson, Maria Kuznetsova, Liz Lin, Amy Lee, Jan Schafer, Julia Schaumburg and Lori Stevenson.

DesignOps occupies a studio space, now referred to as the CWDS Research + Design Studio, on the first floor of CWDS headquarters in Sacramento.

CWDS Announces Cambria Selected for Development Services 

Child Welfare Digital Services (CWDS) has selected Cambria Solutions to provide Front End Development Services to assist the  project to replace the child welfare legacy system.  

Child Welfare Digital Services is pioneering the development and operation of cloud-based software in the public sector, utilizing Agile software development processes rather than a traditional “waterfall” 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.

In 2017, the project released its first code feature which allowed a selected group of county users to login and search the legacy system using a new interface.  While the feature is currently in limited use, the powerful search tool represents a significant technical achievement.  

On February 7, the Intake Digital Service launched Snapshot 1.0, the first release of CWS-CARES functionality which is now live and accessible by 22 county social workers.  


CWDS Project Update 2/9/18

This week, the Intake Digital Service launched Snapshot 1.0, the first release of CWS-CARES functionality which is now live and accessible by 22 county social workers.  These users from across California represent Core Counties who are helping the state research, design and develop the new system to replace the legacy child welfare system.
While Snapshot 1.0 is a limited initial release, it is a significant technical achievement that demonstrates the viability of the CWDS cloud infrastructure, web application architecture, and user-centered design methodology.  CWDS priorities include expanding Snapshot and providing access to a larger set of users toward an eventual statewide deployment.   
Consistent with Agile methodologies to refine and improve the way software is developed, the project is adding Program Increment 5.7 to its regular development cycle to spend two weeks examining ways to optimize performance.  For example, CWDS underwent the initial stages of regrouping development teams, called Team Optimization, which will allow greater flexibility to move resources across digital teams to spike development according to shifting priorities.  
Another refinement includes centralizing the project’s research and design team members across the digital services to broaden their contributions and reduce duplicative work.  This will enable them to get ahead of the development teams and streamline the product pipeline.  The project has begun creation of a new collective referred to as the CWDS Research + Design Studio.
Core County representatives will continue to provide invaluable feedback as user-centered design remains the main tenant guiding development toward a modern set of tools aimed at protecting California’s children. 

Snapshot Implementation Activities

The CWDS Implementation Team is preparing for Snapshot, the first major CWS-CARES release. This tool allows staff to search CWS/CMS data for people and their past child welfare history. The team hosted a series of web conferences in January to kick off implementation activities with the State, county, and tribe organizations. These important sessions covered an overview of the Snapshot tool, logistics of the rollout, implementation services provided to organizations, key contacts and resources, next steps, and a brief Q&A. Ten regional sessions were conducted. Invitees included staff from the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), county directors, SPOCs, technical contacts, and trainers. Implementation Leads (IL) will prepare stakeholders for this change and serve as liaisons for the project. Stay tuned for more updates by subscribing to our newsletter and following us on social media.

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