DCFS Info Memo 2001-13 

August 17, 2001

Department of Health and Family Services
Division of Children and Family Services



Area Administrators/Assistant Area Administrators
Bureau Directors/Section Chiefs
County Departments of Community Programs Directors
County Departments of Developmental Disabilities Services Directors
County Departments of Human Services Directors
County Departments of Social Services Directors
Tribal Chairpersons/Human Services Facilitators


Susan N. Dreyfus


Joyce M. Rose
WiSACWIS Project Director


Update on SACWIS for Wisconsin (WiSACWIS)

We are writing to provide an update on the many project-related activities that are underway in support of the systematic statewide implementation of WiSACWIS. Since our March 2001 informational memo, the Department has contracted with American Management Systems, Inc. as our statewide implementation vendor and we are pleased to report that the project team is preparing for the implementation of the first pilot county. The technical and programmatic revisions to the WiSACWIS application, as well as, the planning and preparation for the October 8, 2001 implementation of Lafayette County are both proceeding on schedule. The director of Lafayette County reported to the pilot county committee that while the planning process has been a positive experience, the automated system would provide significant benefits for this agency. Namely, the system fully supports current agency practice standards and, at this point, it appears that it will provide considerable time savings as a result of the reports and templates contained within the system.

To inform you and begin the preparation of all counties to receive the WiSACWIS system, we have begun a concentrated statewide outreach effort. All county directors have received an introductory memo from the project team member permanently assigned as their county WiSACWIS coordinator. Your coordinator is charged with providing project-related information, onsite system demonstrations and generally keeping your agency up to date on WiSACWIS developments. To enhance our departmental and project communications efforts we are pleased to announce the location of a new WiSACWIS Internet web page located at:


Please log in to the site to discover pertinent information regarding the project. While the site is currently under construction it will soon become a comprehensive knowledge center to guide counties through planning, training, support and other key ingredients to a successful implementation process. Also enclosed with this memo is: 1) the statewide marketing brochure providing additional information regarding project approach, purpose and implementation timeline; and 2) the anticipated statewide county implementation schedule. While the brochure is self-explanatory, the implementation schedule requires some additional detail. Many factors went into determining the number of phases, teams, slots and groupings. The following criteria were applied in determining the county rollout schedule:

  • The schedule had to allow for the up-front development of most of the system modifications, conversion routines and interface programs.

  • The schedule should allow us to take advantage of lessons learned and make implementation process improvements as a result of the experiences of the first several pilot counties.

  • The number of implementation teams and phases needed to be limited to reduce risk, balance workload and ensure maximum manageability.

  • Counties were assigned to implementation teams based upon geographic locations to take advantage of efficiencies of planning, training, travel and ongoing support in order to control project costs.

It is important that you carefully review the schedule, as your coordinator will be contacting you shortly to confirm your county implementation date. We also understand that there are legitimate reasons driven by agency priorities, resource limitations, etc., that may require a county to request a delayed implementation, yet fall within the timetable for statewide completion. At the same time, we are pleased that several counties have already requested an earlier implementation than what is proposed on the schedule. In either case, please inform your county coordinator of your intention and they will provide instruction on how to request either a temporary delay or an earlier implementation slot. All requests will be carefully reviewed and if the criterion of the schedule is not significantly compromised we will make every effort to accommodate you.

We would like to address several issues that have surfaced on a statewide basis regarding the direction of WiSACWIS, funding and county participation. A basic principle of WiSACWIS development has been the creation of and development of an automated child welfare information system that would be fully implemented statewide. The overarching reason for that decision is to be able to administer a single and uniform statewide application of the stateís child welfare practice standards. At the same time, we acknowledge and understand the importance of local case management systems which are necessary for a county to manage the many programs and services outside of child welfare. Clearly our intentions, over time, were well known and informative to the extent that counties who chose to develop local human services systems would also be subject to implementation of the stateís SACWIS system for child welfare case management as it became available. For that reason, we are working diligently through state/county workgroups to develop interfaces which respectfully retain the business functionality of local systems while also assuring the full usage and integrity of the statewide SACWIS system by all counties.

In retrospect, we wished the Department was presented with the opportunity and availability of federal funding during the time period of the SACWIS system decision, which would have allowed for the development of a statewide integrated case management system encompassing cross program services beyond that of child welfare. Should the opportunity for the development of a statewide integrated case management system providing a "single client view" of cross program, cross agency participation become a reality in the future, we do know that the technical design and architecture of our current WiSACWIS system will allow for full integration into such a system. Thus, the functionality and architecture of our current SACWIS compliant system is a solid strategic investment and decision.

In May 2001, we responded to a request from WCHSA for the stateís direction and verification of the one-time implementation and ongoing costs pertaining to WiSACWIS. Let us assure you that the Departmentís position has not changed since that letter was sent to WCHSA and that is as follows:

One-Time Implementation Costs

The budget calls for counties to pay one-third ($6.6 million) of one-time WiSACWIS implementation costs. We can report that Governor McCallum agreed prior to Joint Finance action to support our proposal that the one-time county share will be paid through new federal funds generated by claiming Medicaid targeted case management on non-IV-E cases. A percentage of these funds, as determined in the biennial budget process, will be retained by the state with the remaining percentage first paying off the one-third county share until paid in full and thereafter being distributed to counties through the IV-E incentive program. The bottom line is that with this approach, one-time implementation costs will be paid with state and federal dollars.

Ongoing WiSACWIS Costs

One-third of the annual cost for ongoing operation of the WiSACWIS system will be charged to each county based upon each countyís share of Wisconsinís child population (age 0-17). However, fifty- percent federal IV-E reimbursement is available to cover part of the countiesí ongoing costs based on local cost, allocation plans and direct SACWIS costs. The Department provided some guidance already on county costs eligible for federal reimbursement and will be meeting regionally with interested counties on this matter. In addition, the Department will include county representatives on a state WiSACWIS Advisory Group to participate in the decisions impacting the ongoing costs of operating WiSACWIS. We believe this direct pass-through of federal funds to counties provides a nice opportunity for counties to recoup the actual costs of SACWIS operations and to purchase (or replace) the necessary local hardware or infrastructure to support WiSACWIS.

In closing, WiSACWIS ultimately reflects an effective information system strategy encompassing our shared core values and guiding principles:

  • To assist in the delivery of services to at risk children and families more effectively and promptly;

  • To facilitate interagency coordination by providing immediate information;

  • To address the essential need to develop better shared information about each child who is separated from his/her family;

  • To respond to local, state and federal information and reporting requirements with the most up-to-date aggregate case-level and management reports; and

  • To support consistent, timely and effective child welfare practices regardless of county of residence.

Thank you and please contact Joyce Rose, WiSACWIS Project Director
(608-266-0125) or email (rosejm@dhfs.state.wi.us) for further information. We are committed to the belief that, in order to assure the successful statewide implementation and full county utilization of the system, it is critical that all counties are fully apprised of every aspect of system functionality, development, implementation and funding, as well as other issues and risks impacting the WiSACWIS project. We hope the information contained in this memo and the enclosures will facilitate the next step, which is planning your county implementation of WiSACWIS.


Area Administrator


Joyce Rose
WiSACWIS Project Director


The Department of Children and Families, protecting children, strengthening families, building communities.