Past Projects

Here’s an abbreviated summary of projects that I directly supervised and contributed to over the last 20 plus years..  These are not in chronological order.  I’ve been lucky.  I had a great job, I loved my work, and I worked in an environment that allowed us to grow and create great things.

All of these software programs were written from scratch.  We ran our own web and database servers located in secure facilities within the University of Hawaii system.  Ruby on Rails is the backbone of the majority of the apps that I talk about here.  However, the first app we built for the State was written in ASPX and hosted on IIS.  We ditched that and went to Linux and open source software for everything beyond that.

SHAKA – State of Hawaii Automated Keiki Assistance System
SHAKA was the name of the online web application that our team at the UH Maui Software Development Center built for the State of Hawaii Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Services.  It has enabled social workers, supervisors, management, and Federal agencies to interact with foster youth and resource care givers via the web.  Services include case management, reporting modules, and lots more. Prior to SHAKA the only access to information was from specific CPS offices.  It was a big leap forward.

This website is for Hawaii’s youth involved with the foster care system.  It is full of information to help them as they leave the system and begin their journey into adulthood.  They can communicate with their case worker.  They can apply for ETV (Education and Training Vouchers) without having to meet with a social worker in person.  The youth completes the application for benefits online and all support documentation is uploaded by the youth, usually from their cell phone.

NYTD – National Youth in Transition Database
The National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) collects information on youth in foster care, including sex, race, ethnicity, date of birth, and foster care status. It also collects information about the outcomes of those youth who have aged out of foster care. States began collecting data in 2010, and the first data set was submitted in May 2011.

SHAKA and ShakaTown were programmed to enable youth that have emancipated from care to provide critical information back to ACF (Administration for Children and Families – U.S Department of Health and Human Services) on their current status in the world as young adults.  This information helps guide Hawaii and ACF in their efforts to provide the right services to our youth.  Youth file their reports in ShakaTown and SHAKA picks up the data and generates the NYTD reports for ACF.  I love this stuff.

APS – Adult Protective Services
APS is also part of the Social Services branch of the Hawaii Department of Human Services.  Through its Adult Protective Services program, the APCSB provides crisis intervention, investigation and emergency services to dependent adults who are reported to be abused, neglected or financially exploited by others or seriously endangered due to self-neglect.

APS asked the UH Maui SDC to develop an application similar to SHAKA for APS.  We did it.  The online case management system allows APS case workers to manage their cases online and freed them from being tied to the local APS office to do their work.

How it started with Hawaii DHS

Child Protective Services Intake Tool – Differential Response
The UH Maui College relationship with the State of Hawaii Department of Human Services began with a limited project.  DHS Director Lillian Koller wanted to reduce the number of children who were being removed from their homes by CPS when responding to child welfare complaint reports.  Some kids were being removed from their homes when they probably shouldn’t have been removed.  You can’t blame the investigator.  It’s better to be safe and remove the child while an investigation proceeds to determine if the environment is safe, as opposed to leaving the child at home and then find out later that something terrible has happened to the child.

Lillian had worked with Lee Stein who chaired the social services programs at UH Maui and Lee knew that I had a first class team of software developers working on other projects for the US Department of Labor (DOL).  My boss, Dr Clyde Sakamoto (Chancellor – UH Maui College) brought us all together and helped us begin a direct working relationship between Hawaii State Government and the state funded University of Hawaii System.  One state agency providing much needed services to another state entity using local, home-grown talent instead of paying for big contracts with mainland firms at  huge inflated prices.

The new intake tool played a key role in reducing the number of children in foster care by almost half — from 3,000 to about 1,700.

There is a lot more to be said here.  I’ll add more soon.

John Dunnicliffe
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
February 9, 2019




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