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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.

Posted Wednesday, December 20, 2017 by Team Northwoods

Top 7 Northwoods Blog Posts of 2017

It's that time again! As each year comes to a close, we like to recap the top blog posts from the last 365 days. If you're a new reader or subscriber, this is your chance to catch up on all the good stuff you might have missed.

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Posted Monday, December 4, 2017 by Justin Swain

Celebrating 10 Years of Community Contributions

“Jessica and I were finishing up some Christmas shopping and this guy pulled out a credit card and paid for our purchase. His name is Jeff and his company Northwoods lets them do these random acts of kindness. They just became our Christmas miracle.”

This is the story of one family the Northwoods Foundation helped this past Christmas as part of its “Layaway Payoff”—an annual program meant to spread Christmas cheer to local families.

However, the “random” act of kindness shared in this story really wasn’t so random at all. It’s one of many ways the Northwoods Foundation provides a platform for Northwoods employees to give back and help fulfill a big mission: work together to leave a lasting and meaningful impact on the world. It exemplifies what the Northwoods Foundation is all about—helping people and communities in need.

This year marks the Foundation’s 10th anniversary, and we’re celebrating with a look back at some notable contributions and stories from the last 10 years.

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Posted Tuesday, November 28, 2017 by Team Northwoods

#GivingTuesday: 10 Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season Without Breaking the Bank

Today is #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving celebrated annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

Since its inauguration in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become the unofficial kickoff to the year-end/holiday charitable season.

For many, "giving back" simply means making a monetary donation to the charity of their choice.

However, we recognize that not everybody has the means to support their favorite causes financially. 

In celebration of #GivingTuesday, we've compiled 10 ways you can give back without breaking the bank.

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Posted Wednesday, October 25, 2017 by Aaron Caldwell

A Customer Success Story: Troubleshooting Technology Problems in Human Services

When the average worker has technical issues, she feels frustrated and productivity dips. When a human services caseworker faces technical issues, it affects her ability to serve thousands of families who rely on services like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Medicaid.

This is the story of one Ohio county’s Department of Job & Family Services (DJFS) that relies on the Northwoods Support Center (NSC) to keep the system running at peak performance so workers can focus solely on helping clients.

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Posted Thursday, October 19, 2017 by Rich Diers

What Cognitive Search Means for Social Services

Not too long ago, we were talking to a protective services caseworker who summed up one of the most common issues we hear from customers—not enough time to explore, digest, and understand critical information about a case before they can actually start managing it.

"I'm new and I'm getting cases that are transferred from another ongoing worker. A lot of my time is just spent trying to understand the case. I feel like I'm wasting a lot of time I could be doing actual interactions or providing services for the family."

We also heard from a Child Welfare program manager one of the biggest risks of not having all the critical information related to a case in front of you when making a decision: "Trying to serve on memory is dangerous in our line of work."

What do these two scenarios have in common? They both underscore the importance of having critical, relevant information in a digestible format at your fingertips when serving families. Cognitive search is an emerging trend that’s helping social services agencies do just that.

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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 Tuesday, August 15, 2017 by Michael Littman

4 Tips for Financing Human Services Technology Projects

Human services agencies face several hurdles when it comes to investing in technology.

One of the most significant is ever rising costs to manage—and ever decreasing dollars to fund—expensive technology-related projects.

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Posted Tuesday, August 1, 2017 by Greg Tipping

Pitfalls of Relying on Too Much Paper in Human Services

Going paperless is a priority for plenty of Human Services agencies, yet many organizations lack funding, resources, or proper justification to invest in technology and are forced to continue relying on time-consuming, labor-intensive, paper-based file systems and processes.

For those readers that fall into the latter, consider this: maintaining the status quo could actually be doing more harm than good—and costing more—to your agency in the long run.

Below are five risks to think about if your agency relies too much on paper documents and manual processes.

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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 Tuesday, June 6, 2017 by Rich Diers

Call to Action: Improving IT Procurement in Human Services

Government’s IT procurement process is under fire.

For starters, it’s rigorous, antiquated, and time-consuming—a sentiment that rings true whether you’re the program administrator requesting technology, the state official managing access to the technology, or the provider, like us, working diligently to get your technology in agencies’ hands to help them help others.

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