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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 Thursday, September 28, 2017 by Rich Bowlen

What Causes Dark Data in Adult Services and Why Do You Need It?

As the population ages, more older adults are accessing services at an alarming rate. Increased demand for services leads to collecting more content in the form of notes, forms, and documents. Every piece of content has the potential to contain critical information about a case, but it gets buried deeper and deeper in the file as new information gets added.

No Adult Protective Services, Mental Health, or Long-Term Care social worker realistically has time to digest and apply the amount of both current and past information available to them, and “dark data”—critical, but hidden information—gets created as a result.

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Posted Wednesday, September 20, 2017 by Rich Bowlen

Traverse in Action: Child Welfare Supervisors Empower Workers to Make Confident Decisions

A child welfare supervisor has to know everything about everyone on every case assigned to her or his workers. Yet, case content is constantly changing every, which means so do workers’ priorities, important case topics, and clients’ needs.

For supervisors, this ebb and flow of information means constantly having to get caught up and relearn important case details, which delays their ability to provide support and validate workers’ decisions—not the most effective use of time, especially when a child’s life is at risk.

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Posted Wednesday, July 26, 2017 by Rich Bowlen

Traverse in Action: Identify Agency Trends to Make Positive Community Changes

Child welfare agencies are the lead organization in the community for the safety and wellbeing of children, so they must represent the expertise necessary to effectively protect children and strengthen families.

That means agency directors need to be able to quickly and easily identify emerging trends that contribute to abuse or neglect within their communities. Even more important, they need to be able to provide detailed evidence and specific examples to justify their claims.

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Posted Thursday, June 15, 2017 by Rich Bowlen

Traverse in Action: Surface Hidden Case Information to Help Protect Vulnerable Adults

Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. According to the UN’s Focal Point on Ageing:

While the taboo topic of elder abuse has started to gain visibility across the world, it remains one of the least investigated types of violence in national surveys, and one of the least addressed in national action plans.

Research about elder abuse in the US supports the UN’s claim, showing that one in 10 seniors is abused each year, but only one in every 23 cases is reported to Adult Protective Services (APS). Even more alarming, as the elder population continues to grow (a phenomenon known as the “silver tsunami”), these numbers—as well as the potential for elder abuse—will only continue to grow as a result.

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Posted Tuesday, June 13, 2017 by Rich Bowlen

What Causes Dark Data in Child Welfare? [Infographic]

Finding specific evidence to conclusively support a decision can be overwhelming, if not impossible, for child welfare social workers, supervisors, and directors.

Just think about it: if social workers were only responsible for one case, they (in theory) could spend all their time familiarizing themselves with the information in just that one case. Then, when it came time to make an important decision, they could feel confident about the intimate details of the child, family, or situation in question, and know exactly where to find the data they’d need to support their claim. But that’s not the case.

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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 informationand 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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