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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 Thursday, April 4, 2019 by Jason Wintersteller

Human-Centered Design: How Northwoods Builds Solutions Around You

Editor’s note: you’ve likely heard people talking quite a bit lately about “human-centered design” (or “user-centered design,” “user-experience (UX) design,” or other similar terms). While it might seem like a relatively new trend to some, it has been the foundation upon which Northwoods has developed and delivered our products for years. We invited our product design leader, Jason Wintersteller, to share a bit more about our human-centered design approach and how it influences everything we do.

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Posted Tuesday, March 19, 2019 by Team Northwoods

An Essential Reading List for Human Services Agency Leaders

No matter how many different priorities human services agency leaders juggle, one thing always remains the same: wanting to deliver the best possible experience and outcomes for the families that rely on your agency’s services.

That means carving out time to research what trends, tools, and emerging technologies can have the most significant impact on the industry, as well as what can be learned from other agencies, programs, or states.

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite government, human services, and technology websites to help you get ahead of the curve. You can also follow all the sites mentioned below (and more!) with our Twitter list.

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Posted Wednesday, March 6, 2019 by Team Northwoods

Elevate Social Work: A Roundup of Resources You Need to Succeed

Social Work Month is one of our favorite months of the year. Why? Because of YOU!

We love shouting from the rooftops about the superhero work you do to elevate and empower vulnerable kids, adults, and families. You are a shining light, a beacon of hope for those who need it, and we thank you for all that you do.

That said, each year we like to come up with something a little different to support the Social Work Month theme while sharing your stories and contributions. Since part this year’s theme celebrates how you get people the resources they need to succeed, we thought we’d do the same for you.

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Posted Friday, March 1, 2019 by Rich Bowlen

Child Welfare Call to Action: Don't Wait to Innovate

The idea of technology innovation can be simultaneously exciting and overwhelming in child welfare.

On one hand, the potential to impact outcomes with mobility, analytics, or artificial intelligence (AI) is enticing. Imagine how quickly you’ll be able to initiate meaningful supportive services for children and families if you’re not tethered to the office or archaic ways of service delivery. Imagine if you could gain immediate insight from a wealth of historical knowledge to inform quick decisions about safety.

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Posted Wednesday, February 20, 2019 by Carrie Heinze

Onboarding Made Quick and Easy in Human Services

Time is of the essence.

It takes time to document information. It takes time to learn each child’s story. It takes time to build trust with families. And before all that can take place, it takes time to train workers on new technology.

But what if you could train caseworkers well and save time?

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Posted Thursday, February 14, 2019 by Rupam Chokshi

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Roses are red,
violets are blue,
technology is sweet,
but is it really helping you?

You know that technology has the potential to modernize service delivery and drastically alter how you interact with clients. Too often though, human services agencies commit to technology that doesn’t end up delivering on the value it promises.

Below is a list of questions that can help you determine if your tools and processes are providing the results you need. If not, it may be time to break up with your current vendor and explore a new relationship with a better partner instead.

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Posted Thursday, January 17, 2019 by Lauren Hirka

Connecting the Dots: How Traverse Can Positively Impact a Child’s Life

Cases increasing in complexity. Increased referrals. Impact of opioids. Rising need for out-of-home placement. Antiquated systems and processes. Employee turnover and retention.

These are just a handful of the challenges that make it difficult for child welfare agencies to fulfill their missions to safeguard and deliver the highest possible quality of service to the most vulnerable children, youth, and families in their communities.

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Posted Monday, January 7, 2019 by Team Northwoods

9 Can't Miss Conferences for Human Services in 2019

Editor's note: This post was originally published on January 15, 2018, but we recently updated/expanded the list. New conferences for 2019 are denoted with an asterisk.

New year, new opportunities! If one of your 2019 goals is to keep your finger on the pulse of key issues, trends, and topics impacting your agency and/or community, industry conferences are 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 Tuesday, December 11, 2018 by Team Northwoods

Top 5 Northwoods Blog Posts of 2018

This year's list is full of expert content, inspirational stories to remind you why you do what you do, and other resources to help you utilize social work technology.

Happy reading!

(By the way, want to get more great articles like these written just for human services delivered straight to your inbox next year? Subscribe here.)

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Posted Thursday, December 6, 2018 by Rich Bowlen

Linking Technology, Dark Data, and Child Welfare Outcomes [ISM Session Recap]

In child welfare agencies across the country, social workers and front-line supervisors encounter significant obstacles when finding the best placement for a child in an emergency, are expected to evaluate every psychotropic medication use in youth in foster care, and face the seemingly impossible task of staying on top of cases that open and re-open over several years.

For some, innovative technology solutions have helped them to overcome these systemic barriers. Implementing a system of engagement designed to increase efficiency and improve service delivery, for example, has helped these agencies to take full advantage of their case content—collecting, analyzing, and displaying the critical data and information needed to make confident decisions about child safety.

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