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Our blog isn’t about us. It’s about you. We discuss business challenges and real issues human service agencies and caseworkers face everyday. You’ll find traditional human services software articles about things like document management for human services and social work technology. But you’ll also find inspirational stories to boost caseworkers’ spirits and tools to help agencies find and gain support for technology in human services.

Rich Bowlen's Articles

Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by Rich Bowlen

New Research and Reading Recommendations for Child Welfare

The more you know, the better decisions you can make on behalf of a child. But finding time to sift through research and read up on the trends impacting the industry is easier said than done.

As the former director of a child and adult protective services agency, I know how hard it is to keep up with the information in your own cases, let alone what’s going on outside the agency’s walls. That’s why I try to always carve out time to identify valuable tools, links, and resources that can help any director researching critical topics and trends like change management, CCWIS, and technology in social work.

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Posted Thursday, April 27, 2017 by Rich Bowlen

Traverse in Action: Complete Case History Helps Social Workers Achieve Permanence for Children

Angel, a Foster Care & Treatment Social Worker in North Carolina, and Andrea, a Caseworker & Kinship Assessor in Ohio, are working toward the same goal: find the best placement the first time for a child coming into each of their agency’s care.

But critical information about the child—relatives, behavioral issues, or medical history—is often hidden or virtually impossible to retrieve. Without a full picture of the child’s detailed past and present, it’s difficult for Angel and Andrea to find the right placement at the right time, and most importantly, the first time.

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Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2017 by Rich Bowlen

Meet Traverse: Case Discovery. Confident Decisions. Safer Children and Families.

Finding the best placement the first time for a child coming into care is every foster care or kinship social worker’s mission. But that’s easier said than done when you only have a partial understanding of the child’s story. What if you could uncover a complete history of previous placements, medications, behavioral issues, and other key information to shape your decision? Imagine if that child's case file could talk to you.

Maybe you’re new to the case or an on call social worker required to immediately find a safe place for a child to stay the night. With little time and a lot at stake, you need a complete understanding of the family and case in a moment’s notice. What are the important medical and emotional needs? What can help minimize trauma? Imagine if you could gain immediate insights from a wealth of historical knowledge to make quick decisions about safety and lessen the hurt just a little.

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Posted Tuesday, March 21, 2017 by Rich Bowlen

10 Tips on Self-Care for Social Workers

Social workers often spend so much of their time advocating and standing up for children and families that they sometimes overlook the importance of taking care of themselves. While the rewards of being a social worker are plentiful, the job can take its toll – mentally and physically.

Here are 10 simple ways social workers can practice self-care, manage stress and burnout, and boost their well-being even on the most difficult days.

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Posted Sunday, January 15, 2017 by Rich Bowlen

Dark Data is Hiding in Your Child Welfare Case Files

It is unrealistic for anyone in child welfare to remain constantly up to date on every case, especially when so much of the information is hiding in the dark. Yet, everyone expects the child welfare social worker to do just that.

Think about it: the average case file contains over a thousand documents, or approximately four to five thousand pages of information – and it's being added to every day by countless entities. On top of that, workers are managing an average 24-31 cases each.

How can a worker be expected to find the right information as quickly as necessary when they have to sift through so much information to find it?

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Posted Friday, September 23, 2016 by Rich Bowlen

Is Your Aging and Adult Services Program Ready for the “Silver Tsunami?”

There’s a tsunami coming in aging and adult services. Will your program be ready when it hits?

Within the next four years, the elderly population in the United States is expected to increase to 54.6 million – meaning nearly 8 million more people over the age of 65 in 2020 than there are today.

And what does this aging population mean for your program? You guessed it: Even. More. Paperwork.

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Posted Friday, August 19, 2016 by Rich Bowlen

Not Your Granddaddy’s Technology Implementation

Have you ever had to sit in a room for hours upon hours listening to someone explain how a new technology is going to work, and then by the time you get back to your computer and try to start using the tool, you completely forget what you were supposed to do? So. Incredibly. Frustrating.

Not only is it frustrating, but it’s inefficient too. In fact, research has shown that students only retain 20% of information they learn by sitting and listening passively in a lecture-style environment.

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Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2016 by Rich Bowlen

Debunking Common Child Welfare Social Work Myths and Misperceptions

Social workers do too much. Social workers don’t do enough. Social workers make decisions on a whim. Social workers tear families apart.

If someone doesn’t understand the intricacies of working with families involved in a child welfare case, or realize the roller coaster of emotions felt when making decisions that affect a child’s life, it’s easy to make assumptions and judgments about what social workers do.

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Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2016 by Rich Bowlen

Understanding and Applying the Human Services Value Curve

Last month, a few Northwoodians attended APHSA’s National Health & Human Services Summit. We attended sessions focused on predictive analytics, preventative care, improving outcomes, and integrating services, all of which had one theme in common: transforming the industry through the Human Services Value Curve.

What is the Human Services Value Curve, you ask? Keep reading to learn more.

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Posted Thursday, June 23, 2016 by Rich Bowlen

How to Assemble a "Justice League" of Tech Teams

Having the right people on a technology implementation team is make or break for project success. Too often in human services, the right people aren’t involved from the beginning and by the time the project hits end users, it’s dead in the water.

In our experience, assembling a clearly defined team is the first step toward increasing user adoption when it comes to technology. While the number of people involved may differ depending on the size of your agency and the scope of the project, the general makeup should be the same.

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