New Federal Rule Means Increased Business Opportunities in Child Welfare IT

Posted by Olivia Hayden on June 9, 2016

Capital Building

For vendors in the child welfare IT market, Deltek predicts a flurry of business opportunities in the coming years in response to new child welfare regulations issued by the federal government. On June 2, 2016, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued the final Comprehensive Child Welfare Information Systems (CCWIS) regulation giving states new flexibility to tailor their child welfare systems to meet their unique business environments. The new compliant systems will be called Comprehensive Child Welfare Information Systems (CCWIS), a change from the traditional Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS) moniker. The final regulation will spur many states to initiate procurements to upgrade their child welfare systems or seek fully-compliant replacement systems in order to receive additional federal funding.

In April, Deltek released a CCWIS Market Brief detailing the current SACWIS vendor landscape, contract information and procurement trends. The Market Brief also highlights upcoming procurement opportunities and helps vendors target states that have indicated interest in child welfare IT upgrades.

The Final Rule:

The new regulation replaces the Statewide and Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (S/TACWIS) rule and encourages states to take advantage of technology advances that have been made since the initial child welfare regulations were implemented in 1993. The final rule loosens many regulations, such as the requirement for a single comprehensive system, and allows data to be received from external child welfare systems. In addition, the rule imposes new requirements designed to improve data quality and data exchange capabilities. Most importantly for Child Welfare IT vendors, the federal government is encouraging a modular procurement process and less expensive re-usable systems, in line with other health and human services procurement trends promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Changes from Proposed Rule:

In the April CCWIS Market Brief, we provided an overview of the August 2015 proposed rule. In response to the over 300 comments the federal government received, including input from states and industry groups, the final regulation clarifies many aspects of the proposed rule and relaxes requirements that states felt would be too burdensome. For example, the requirement for annual quality reviews was changed to a biennial review process. The final rule also allows for multiple data exchanges and a less stringent standard for internal data exchanges. That said, the final rule did not result in substantive changes to the proposed rule, and the final regulation will go into effect on August 1, 2016.

Analyst Take:

This new regulation marks the first time in over 20 years that federal requirements for child welfare systems have been updated. Many SACWIS systems are in desperate need of technological upgrades as caseworkers struggle to get real-time information and have to re-enter data into multiple systems. Already, states like California and Colorado are moving forward with modular upgrades of their child welfare information systems, and many states have issued requests for information to solicit vendor input on how to move forward with upgrades.

For more information on upcoming CCWIS opportunities, check out the CCWIS Market Brief, as well as the GovWin IQ State, Local and Education database, for state-specific project information. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial.