The United States Administration for Child and Families (AC&F) recently published the new federal Comprehensive Child Welfare Information Systems (CCWIS) rule to stimulate the modernization of child and family services agencies. The original Statewide or Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (SACWIS/TACWIS) regulations were published in 1993 to help case workers manage their child welfare caseloads and comply with federal reporting requirements. These systems were large, “one-size-fits-all” approaches rather than tailored processes suited to the individual needs of each state. Since then, child welfare practices and technology have advanced considerably and SACWIS systems do not meet current needs.
In contrast, CCWIS systems are modular, reusable case management information frameworks and set of standards that states and tribes may develop to support their unique child welfare program needs. CCWIS are not just an IT project, they afford the opportunity to redesign the life cycle of child welfare and ultimately improve outcomes for children and families through better data interoperability, modularity, and data quality. CCWIS represent a game changer for everyone involved because they:
- Provide child welfare staff with information to make informed decisions and take action
- Encourage program innovation
- Support collaboration with other human service, health, and education programs/systems
- Facilitate communication with courts
- Promote continuous quality improvement
- Use new technology to support the child welfare team
- Reduce costs for development and maintenance
CCWIS SYSTEM OVERVIEW
There are six unique entities (federal, state, county, agency, supervisor/case-worker, and child/family) within child welfare that should use technology. Each entity has requirements from a CCWIS system.
FEDERALLY REQUIRED DATA
A CCWIS must maintain data needed to support federal & agency requirements, including:
- IV-B/IV-E data for federal or agency reports audits, reviews, & monitoring
- IV-B/IV-E data to support federal or agency laws, regulations, and policy
- Data to support Indian Child Welfare Act (states only)
- Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System (AFCARS) data
- National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) data for federal audits, reviews, & reports (states only)
REQUIRED DATA EXCHANGES
A CCWIS must support collaboration, interoperability, and data sharing with a new data exchange that is efficient, economical, and effective. Data exchanges are required for the following entities:
- Child welfare contributing system
- Ancillary child welfare systems used by agency staff
As you think about the unique child welfare life cycle in your state, begin by thinking about the needs of the children you are serving. What do you need to do in order to improve business processes and data sharing in order to provide the right care at the right time? How can you effectively communicate with all parties involved in the child welfare data journey? CCWIS technology allows you to put the children you serve at the center of your focus while also meeting the needs of your organizational structure and practice model. In the end CCWIS can be a valuable tool to enable stakeholders to spend more time where it matters most, on the clients they serve.