Joining the Child Welfare Case Management Revolution

This is a four part series on the Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS), which states can build with federal funding help to replace an antiquated data and management process.

This series is written by Dr. Michael Corrigan, associate professor at, Marshall University and vice president of Multi-Dimensional Education. Corrigan and his team are the architects of VitalChild’s MDYA360 Outcomes Monitoring System, a CCWIS solution developed by Helix Business Solutions and Powered by Oracle Cloud.

Cartoon by Michael Corrigan

I have met a number of child welfare workers during my life, personally and professionally. In my eyes many of them are miracle workers, if not angels. The everyday dedication and persistence required to tackle their never-ending to-do lists of impossibilities is truly admirable.

For state lawmakers and governors currently debating the approval of larger operating budgets, adopting more modern technology for this workforce caring for our nation’s most vulnerable children is the best way to ensure increased efficiency and enhance the delivery of child welfare services.

There is an opportunity on the table to make critical leaps in technology, in the form of the Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS). States can revolutionize their data collection, case management and evaluation performance with matched dollars from the federal government. With such efforts we can make these complicated jobs more manageable, and shorten the duration of services needed; saving more lives and money.

Last summer, 46 states announced their intention to build a CCWIS by the federal deadline, which means there is a lot of work to be done to maximize the potential of these systems around the country. This series of articles are dedicated to illustrate why change is needed, and how states should think about and pursue this opportunity. To begin, here is a brief case for why this is so important.

On a day-to-day basis the child welfare systems of care are overwhelmed with an endless barrage of crisis-fed dilemmas. Often, these constant challenges are tied to variables out of their control such as limited budgets and resources, outdated technology, high turnover rates and emergencies such as the opioid crisis adding to reports of abuse and neglect, heavy caseloads and existing overcapacity issues.

Then to provide a skoosh more chaos, along comes a major change in federal law with the Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) legislation, and waiting in the wings we have the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) demanding additional major accountability-driven change. Throw in a tragic headline sharing news of mistaken placements, avoidable abuse incidents, case workers being attacked, children missing from foster homes or tragic deaths in the system, and what you have is a seemingly daunting daily mass of barriers to consistency and success.

Seriously, with such a long list of challenges, what is a poor, financially challenged, child welfare department to do? For states wiling to infuse some long overdue funding, I believe the opportunity represented by CCWIS can help those in the child welfare sector transform care efforts, and soon see the tides change for the better.

My hope is to clarify what new child welfare technology truly needs to provide in order to actually deliver the meaningful, comprehensive and lasting change that you and most importantly the vulnerable children you support deserve. I want to illustrate how your overall future success will be more than slightly dependent upon the technology you select and the path you take to implementing CCWIS and planning ahead for the Family First Act.

To be able to collect the higher quality data essential to feeding the more consistent, accurate and electronically generated automated recommendations so many are hoping for, we must also ensure we are using sound research methods and measurements to meet the requirements essential to performing operational and predictive analytics. In other words, the outcomes you seek to accomplish with your new CCWIS technology are quite dependent on the quality and quantity of data you collect, how you collect it, access it and utilize it.

I hope I have piqued your curiosity. The parts to follow will cover:

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