Colorado Department of Human Services is Modernizing Colorado’s Child Welfare System Trails

In 2015, the Colorado Department of Human Services began the “Trails Modernization” project to rebuild Colorado’s case management system “Trails” using web technology. Soon workers will begin to see changes as a result of a modular or “phased roll-out approach” unprecedented in the field.  

Accessed by approximately 6,000 users through 87 unique interfaces, Trails integrates with 11 other state systems that track child abuse and neglect cases, care provider licenses, children and youth in the youth corrections system, foster and adoptive services and data required to gauge program effectiveness and adherence with government safety standards. CGI Group Inc., the fifth largest independent information technology and business process services firm in the world, has recently been selected through a competitive bidding process to lead the next two phases of the modernization of the Trails system. CGI was previously selected to lead phase one of the project which included technical design planning, consultation with the federal Administration for Children and Families and many, many information gathering meetings with employees with county human services agencies and CDHS Division of Child Welfare. 

“Trails is the backbone of Colorado’s child welfare system.  The existing, 13-year-old system is a critical component in desperate need of a major overhaul,” said Dr. Robert Werthwein, director for the CDHS office of children, youth and families. “This modernization will improve caseworker productivity, reduce data duplication and redundancy and streamline intake processes.”

Modernization will make the Trails system mobile-friendly, with a new mobile platform that uses cameras and GPS location capabilities, and remote system integration and secure access management – allowing workers to document cases offline and synch to the Trails system at their convenience.

“Our solution is focused on prioritizing the needs of caseworkers, agency users, providers, and most importantly, the children and families of Colorado,” said Dave Delgado, Senior Vice President, U.S. West Operations, CGI. “End users of Colorado’s Trails system are ready for new technology that will digitally transform the way they do business by eliminating duplicate data entry, providing simple navigation, granting access to mobile technology and providing enhanced reporting.  Most importantly, caseworkers want a tool that allows them to ensure the health and safety of Colorado’s children and respond quickly when emergencies arise.”

Trails was originally purchased from another state and tailored to fit Colorado’s needs.  There have been many changes over the years to Trails, as process changes occur and new requirements are identified.  There are also many limitations with the current system as a result of the age of the technology originally used to build it.  There’s limited mobile access, redundant data entry, missing data interfaces and other problems with attachments and reporting capabilities. Users have difficulty navigating a complex system, and the system has a slow response time due to a client-server based technology. Thankfully, with this modular approach over a two year period parts of Trails will change so that caseworkers will begin to see improvements long before the project is fully complete. 

The schedule for this phased roll-out approach to update different modules or functional areas of Trails is outlined below:

  • Intake and Resource Modules: These modules include changes to system administration, organization/staff, intake, resource, and client / provider searches. The first release addressing system administration and organization/staff functionality is scheduled for July 2017, two additional releases are planned but not yet scheduled and the module is scheduled for completion in March 2018.
  • Assessment and Commitment Modules are scheduled for completion in September 2017.
  • Case Module is scheduled for completion in June 2018.
  • Fiscal Module is scheduled for completion in June 2018.

A phased roll-out approach also means that workers will be using a combination of new and old functionality throughout the modernization project. For example, starting this July a new case would be opened in the modernized Intake module.  Then assessment and other case work would be completed in the current Trails system as usual.  Then in September, a new case would start in the Intake module, flow through to the Assessment module, then to Commitment if needed.  Additional case work would be managed through current Trails.  By July of 2018, all modules will be completed and there would be no need to go into current Trails to do any work.

Right now, selected users from various county human services departments from across the state who volunteered throughout phase one by working with CGI and CDHS Division of Child Welfare on the requirements documentation and design of this project are validating these first Intake and Resource Modules. Demonstrations, further testing and of course training for users will take place this April and July to prepare for the new Intake and Resource Modules roll-out in July 2017. The next modules, Assessment and Commitment, will follow a similar but condensed training and roll-out schedule as September 2017 grows closer.

The Trails Modernization project team is dedicated to making this transition as easy as possible. Through a series of blog posts, beginning with this first post, the team will highlight improvements in functionality as well as training opportunities to keeping workers who use Trails updated and informed before you start to see changes. Sign up for updates on this page. 

For detailed information about the Trails Modernization Project visit the Trails Modernization Steering Committee webpage for the most current updates on scheduled activities including meetings.

Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline
1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1‑844‑264‑5437)
Available 24 hours a day, every day. Don't hesitate to call and get help. 
Anyone witnessing a child in a life-threatening situation should call 911 immediately.