June 8, 2016
SLI Global Solutions Attends White House Foster Care and Technology Hackathon
DENVER, CO (June 7, 2016) – SLI Global Solutions (SLI) was honored to be invited to the nation’s first-ever White House Foster Care & Technology Hackathon, May 26 – 27. This event capped off the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) efforts to highlight May as National Foster Care Month and the issuance of the Comprehensive Child Welfare Information Systems (CCWIS) Final Rule. White House and HHS leaders in Child Welfare and Technology were joined by a diverse group of Child Welfare thought-leaders and innovators from state and local agencies, philanthropic organizations, non-profits and the private sector to discuss how technology can assist in meeting the complex challenges facing youths in care, as well as the legal challenges of applying technology in Child Welfare.
The symposium included welcoming presentations featuring Policy Advisor Molly Dillon, Commissioner Rafael Lopez, The Domestic Policy Council, The White House Administration on Children, Youth and Families and HHS. Plenary sessions focused on developing digital solutions for foster youth, families and providers, as well as the legal implications of providing greater access to Child Welfare data across agencies. There were several breakout sessions including Innovations in Public Child Welfare Agencies, Leveraging Resources and Engaging the Private Sector, Innovation in the Non-Profit Sector, Big Data Opportunities and Challenges in Child Welfare and Redesigning How Child Welfare Technology is Built and Delivered. Video highlighting moments of the event are available here.
Both the plenary sessions and breakout sessions revealed broad consensus that the CCWIS Final Rule enables and empowers Child Welfare agencies and their technical partners to focus on the quality of data as they design new systems and that both the procurement and development of CCWIS technology must be more agile and responsive to the needs of the Child Welfare communities. Years-long efforts to procure and deliver Child Welfare applications have produced monolithic legacy systems and data. The result is that these systems are non-responsive to rapidly changing business requirements and the need for greater data access while maintaining security and privacy. The importance of integrating philanthropic initiatives and the concerns of foster care alumni were recurring themes in multiple presentations and panel discussions.
In addition to speakers and panel presentations, there were two “hack” tracks: Technology Hacks and Legal Hacks. Technology Hack teams built working prototypes of applications addressing foster care challenges of teen pregnancy, mothers with substance abuse issues, foster youth access to essential documents, and case worker / foster youth coordination. The Legal Hack Team directed their efforts at moving Child Welfare lawyers from focusing on the legal barriers to data access to becoming problem solvers for access, control, preservation and protection of Child Welfare data. The Legal Hack Team developed a model Child Welfare Bill of Rights for data access by foster youth, sharing agencies, caseworkers, and courts. The Bill of Rights included automatic Medicaid eligibility for youths who age out of the program.
After the hack teams pulled an all-nighter, each team presented their solutions as the closing session moderated by Susannah Fox, Chief Technology Officer, HHS; and Megan Smith, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The teams demonstrated working software developed over a 24-hour period that addresses real-world challenges with mobile and accessible applications.
“SLI was absolutely thrilled to attend and participate in the White House Foster Care and Technology Hackathon,” enthused Dave Jennings, SLI’s Director of Business Development. “It was a tremendous opportunity to network with Child Welfare leaders from the entire community who are working on some of the most complex social issues facing our nation. White House and Federal administration leaders made it clear that the old way of procuring and developing Child Welfare systems must change to a more agile process that values working products over detailed and time-consuming planning and processes that require years to implement and are often out of sync with modern technology when finally delivered.”
“SLI’s deep experience in providing IV&V services on agile software development projects for state HHS agencies was the key rationale for our invitation. The traditional waterfall-centric approach to IV&V is not appropriate or effective on agile and modular procurement and development initiatives, and in fact, can negatively impact these types of projects. SLI has developed an oversight methodology we deploy on agile projects, called SpARC (SLI’s Process for Agile in a Regulated Context) that is aligned agile software development practices to enable IV&V to provide independent findings and recommendations that are appropriate to agile. Our investment in SpARC™ ensures that SLI has proven tools to assist Child Welfare agencies to meet the challenges of successful agile approaches to CCWIS.”