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Posted Thursday, January 31, 2019 by Team Northwoods

Rural Colorado Counties Team Up to Purchase Child Welfare Software

Caseworkers to spend more time with families; reduce time on paperwork

DUBLIN, Ohio—January 31, 2019—Four rural county social services departments in Southwest Colorado pooled resources to invest in new technology to help child welfare caseworkers spend more time with children and families and less time on paperwork.

The four agencies, Archuleta County Department of Human Services (DHS), Dolores County Department of Social Services (DSS), Ouray County Department of Social Services (DSS) and San Miguel Department of County Social Services (DSS) will equip child welfare caseworkers with the product Traverse® to collect, view and share case content from anywhere at any time—from the office to the field.

"My concern is that child welfare is becoming more of a compliance-based system that is geared toward spending more time in our office doing documentation and data entry as opposed to working directly with families. I’m looking forward to decreasing the time caseworkers spend at their desks so that time can be directed to families and children," said Matthew A. Dodson, LCSW, director, Archuleta County DHS.

The technology will help caseworkers manage and access the volume of content in case files more efficiently, so they can spend more time doing high-value work with children and families. Caseworkers will use the web-based application in the office to scan and upload documents and a companion mobile app to easily take photos, complete forms and view case information during home visits.

"With this fast-paced work in the field we need to make decisions quickly, and we need data to do that. Traverse is going to help make that happen,” said Carol Friedrich, LCSW, director, Ouray County DSS and San Miguel County DSS.

Access to information in the field is critical in child welfare, but especially in rural areas with limited internet connection or Wi-Fi making it impossible for caseworkers to retrieve case data. Traverse works in a disconnected mode so caseworkers can access and collect information even without a connection.

“We don't have internet, Wi-Fi or even phone data in some areas when our staff are in the field. The offline capability in Traverse is going to be helpful to capture data in the field to be downloaded later,” Friedrich said.

The agency directors are proud to be among the first in Colorado to use Traverse. Although not typically how social services agencies purchase technology, the regional approach made it attainable for these small agencies.

"We get the minimum allocation every year for our child welfare funds, so it's hard for us to keep up with what the bigger counties are doing. By pooling our resources together, we are on the cutting edge, instead of being five steps behind,” said Malynda Evans, MSW, director, Dolores County DSS.

All the data and content collected both in the office and in the field is automatically analyzed by Traverse using artificial intelligence to surface data that often becomes dark, hidden or virtually impossible to retrieve. Traverse extracts critical information about the major topics, related events and people connected to the case to help caseworkers make informed, confident decisions about safety.

“As child welfare agencies across the country struggle to provide front line workers with timely access to critical information, Archuleta, Dolores, Ouray and San Miguel counties are addressing this challenge together. Without a regional approach, it would have been extremely difficult for any one of the agencies to acquire Traverse. We are excited to bring this innovative project to southwest Colorado,” said Chris McConnell, vice president, sales, Northwoods.

About Northwoods 
Northwoods develops customized, high-tech software solutions for adult & aging, child support, child welfare and economic assistance. We help state and county human services agencies do more with less and get the results they need. Nearly 45,000 caseworkers across the country use our solutions to manage, collect, view and share content and data more efficiently. As a result, agencies improve service delivery, maximize productivity, make informed decisions and achieve better outcomes. Northwoods is headquartered in Dublin, Ohio.

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