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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 Monday, January 15, 2018 by Team Northwoods

8 Can't Miss Conferences for Human Services in 2018

New year, new opportunities!

If one of your goals for 2018 is to keep your finger on the pulse of key issues, trends, and topics impacting your agency and/or community, attending one or two industry conferences throughout the year is a great way to get started.

We've vetted and attended a lot of conferences over time, and we like to start each new year with a list of recommendations.

This list represents events that not only have amazing programming and speakers, but also build in time for attendees to network, share ideas, and discuss how they're addressing key opportunities and challenges.

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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 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 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, have you ever stopped to consider that maintaining the status quo could be doing more harm than good—and costing more—to your agency in the long run?

Consider these five risks associated with relying too much on paper documents and manual processes.

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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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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 Wednesday, May 10, 2017 by Team Northwoods

35 Apps for the Mobile Social Worker

Social workers spend so much of their time in the field visiting families and traveling between appointments. But workers don't have to be away from important information just because they're away from their computers.

Here are 35 apps that can help mobile social workers stay safe, save time, engage kids and adults, find resources for clients, and even deal with stress.

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Posted Thursday, April 13, 2017 by Greg Tipping

Get the Scoop on Cabarrus County DHS’ Lobby Modernization Success

You may have heard us talk before about the amazing results our friends at Cabarrus County Department of Human Services (DHS) have seen since redesigning their lobby, upgrading technology, and modernizing business processes. Now, we’re also sharing the nitty gritty details behind how Cabarrus County made the project—and its resulting success—happen.

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