Child Welfare Information Solution (CWIS)
In 2012, Governor Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania legislature convened the Task Force on Child Protection to thoroughly review state laws and procedures governing child protection and the reporting of child abuse. Specifically, House Resolution 522 and Senate Resolution 250 called on the Task Force on Child Protection to:
- Examine and analyze the practices, processes, and procedures relating to the response to child abuse;
- Review and analyze law, procedures, practices, and rules relating to the reporting of child abuse;
- Hold public hearings and accept and review written comments from individuals and organizations; and
- Submit recommendations to improve the reporting of child abuse; implement any necessary changes in state laws and practices, policies, and procedures relating to child abuse; and train appropriate individuals in the reporting of child abuse.
The Task Force on Child Protection delivered a report that outlines recommendations for improving the laws and services that protect Pennsylvania children:
More recently the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed and the Governor signed a series of bills based upon the recommendation of the task force. These bills are designed to strengthen the reporting of and response to incidents of child abuse, enhance the multi-disciplinary investigation of reports, and improve the safety and protection of children.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) also initiated a feasibility study in 2008 to identify requirements necessary to develop an automated system to support the child welfare program and to look at alternatives for implementing such a system. In 2012, DHS began a project to design and implement a modernized child welfare system over the course of several years. Some of the goals of the project are:
- Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Pennsylvania's child welfare programs through systematic automation and process modernization;
- Integrate state-level systems with county children and youth agencies' case management systems;
- Improve the timeliness of child welfare reporting; and
- Enable data-driven decision making that will result in improved outcomes for children.
At the state level, the Child Welfare Information Solution (CWIS) will leverage existing assets and evolve into a comprehensive human services enterprise system. CWIS will create an interoperable case management system allowing for state and county acceptance; and real-time electronic sharing of information critical to administering the child welfare program in Pennsylvania.
The planned approach also establishes a central database to hold all critical statewide child welfare information, most of which will be available real-time, and functionality for state-level services with access to case-level data. The creation of a single abuse and neglect database is now permitted by Act 29 of 2014 which amended the Child Protective Services Laws and enables the Department of Human Services to collect reports from county children and youth agencies on child abuse and children who are in need of general protective services. Act 29 also provides for the establishment of a pending complaint file and dispositions of complaints received. Only authorized personnel will have access to the central database.
CWIS is designed to provide the following benefits:
- Provide near-time data on children being served by the county agency
- Allow for the exchange of information across counties
- Eliminate gaps in information throughout the life of a case
- Improve the accuracy and timeliness of data to evaluate program performance and outcomes
- Improve tracking and auditing of state and federal funds
- Electronically transfer Child Protective Service and General Protective Service cases to and from the State to appropriate counties
- A web site for mandated reporters to submit CPS and GPS cases online
- Ability to electronically submit and receive a child abuse history clearance through on-line capabilities