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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

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: https://cwdsforums.webex.com/cwdsforums/onstage/g.php?MTID=eebd8f7136db7dc2e69cee3202a5859b5

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Audio conference information
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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:
  
 

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.

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 https://cwds.ca.gov/dashboard.  If you would like to be part of building it, watch our Job Opportunities at https://cwds.ca.gov/join_cwds.

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)

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.