National Center for Youth Law

A new application for safeguarding America’s most vulnerable youth in our schools.

The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) works to improve foster care systems and, through their FosterEd program, support the educational outcomes of children and youth in foster care.

The system that the National Center for Youth Law was using to track cases was about to be sunsetted, so we set out to quickly build NCYL a new case management system on the Drupal 8 platform. NCYL had been using a SaaS platform to manage its many foster ed cases, but the product was about to be discontinued. We began work at the very end of 2015, knowing we had to launch the platform and migrate all of their sensitive student data before the end of June, 2016.

Progress Tracking

Moving Forward with Drupal 8

Once NCYL chose to adopt Drupal 8, we set out to improve the team’s efficiency and collaboration, and build a more robust tracking tool that addressed their needs instead of shoehorning them into a set of assumptions about how case tracking should work. The NCYL team was well-acquainted with how staff used their previous tracking system – and how they did their real work on the ground, which helped us define clear goals for the software we were about to build.

Mobile Overview

By focusing on the needs of the individual students in the system, and the team that supported them, we designed a holistic case tracking platform that not only allowed easy communication, but enabled NCYL’s staff to measure a student’s progress toward the ultimate goal: ensuring they received the support they needed to complete their education.

Goal Tracking


We assembled our largest development team to date to tackle implementation in order to meet the hard deadline imposed by the end-of-life date for the old system.

Given the sensitive nature of the student information stored on the platform, we leveraged Drupal 8’s strong permissions infrastructure to establish tightly-constructed user roles. Each user, from team leaders to parents, to the students themselves, had a set of tasks and information they could access. We ensured that individuals who weren’t authorized to access information didn’t see what they weren’t supposed to, while also making it easy and intuitive for authorized users to get the information they needed.

User Flow

NCYL still needed the data stored on their old platform, so the transition called for a large data migration. We used Drupal Migrate in conjunction with exported CSV files, all encrypted and transmitted over SFTP. Much of the content required custom-tailoring from the NCYL team, so we built them carefully-defined spreadsheets to tie all of the various objects together. Notes, goals, and team members all flowed into the new structures on Drupal 8.


By focusing on the needs of the student and the team that serves them, we delivered a system that not only replaced NCYL’s old case management software, on time and on budget, but we combined all of their data that was previously stored in other sources - including simple spreadsheets - creating a cohesive, holistic view of each of their student’s progress.

Since the initial launch, we continue to add new functionality to the site and we look forward to partnering with NCYL going forward to continue to improve their ability to do their important work.


“We are so pleased with the product to date and appreciate everything you and your team have done to help us to transition to this new tool in a very short time frame and in a way that will ensure that we continue to serve our youth effectively.”

Michelle François Traiman

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