Posted Thursday, January 12, 2017 by Team Northwoods

7 Can't Miss Conferences for Human Services in 2017

Editor's note: While the conferences on this list are still excellent, there's a newer version of this blog post you may want to check out instead. View the most recent list here.

Two key themes arise whenever we talk to customers about how they stay up-to-date on the key issues and trends impacting their agency and community:

  1. Peer conversations and idea-sharing
  2. Industry research and best practices

One of the best ways to get a double dose of both? Carving out time to attend conferences and events that not only have really amazing programming/sessions, but also build in plenty of time for attendees to network and discuss how they’re addressing key opportunities and challenges.

We’ve vetted and attended a lot of conferences over the years, and curated a list of “best of the best” events that we recommend our clients and partners attend to get ahead.(You can also visit our website to see a full list of national and state-specific conferences we’re planning to attend each quarter.)

Hope to see you there!

Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) National Conference

  • Who? Agency directors; child welfare program administrators and professionals
  • What? “This conference will feature evidence-informed/based programs and practices, and related policies and tools that lead to successful implementation of practices, services and programs, resulting in improved outcomes for children, youth and families—and that are most likely to generate positive attention in the public policy context.”
  • When? March 29-31
  • Where? Washington, D.C.
  • Why? We’re constantly in awe of the work child welfare social workers do every day. This conference is a great way to learn new strategies, ideas, and tools that we can share with partners to help them continue to improve the lives of children and families.

APHSA’s National Health and Human Services Summit

  • Who? Agency directors; program administrators and HHS professionals
  • What? “The overarching goal of the Summit is to delve into how Health and Human Services leaders and professionals can create a modern, responsive health and human services system that leads to stronger, healthier families and communities.”
  • When? April 30 – May 3
  • Where? Baltimore, MD
  • Why? Northwoodians who attend the summit always come back with a ton of insights on new policy changes, new federal changes, new research, and other trends that impact our partners.

National Association of County’s (NACo) Annual Conference

  • Who? County managers and commissioners; government officials
  • What? “The NACo Annual Conference & Exposition is the only meeting that draws a cross section of elected officials and county staff from across the country. Attendees come together for 4 days of education, networking, and sessions aimed to help improve residents’ lives and the efficiency of county government.”
  • When? July 21-24
  • Where? Columbus, OH
  • Why? What are the unique challenges counties are facing, and what solutions are they pursuing to solve them? This is the place to find out. (Bonus: This one is hosted in Northwoods’ own backyard!)

National Child Support Enforcement Association (NCSEA) Leadership Symposium

  • Who? CSEA directors; child support program administrators and professionals
  • What? “The Leadership Symposium is a vehicle by which the child support community can share and celebrate the application of best practices, partnerships, and innovative thinking within the day to day management and operations of the child support program.”
  • When? August 6-9
  • Where? Scottsdale, AZ
  • Why? Child support often gets a bad rap, but there’s actually a lot of really interesting things happening in the child support community that help both agencies and the families they serve. We’ve been attending NCSEA for several years now to hear what’s going on at the national level and how it will impact the states and counties we work with.

American Association of SNAP Directors/National Association of State TANF Administrators (AASD/NASTA) Annual Education Conference

  • Who? Agency directors; public assistance/income maintenance program administrators and professionals
  • What? “The AASD/NASTA Education Conference promotes the exchange of experience and knowledge among those agencies of federal, state, and local government agencies administering SNAP and TANF by providing expert advice and consultation on SNAP, other income assistance issues and the economic well-being of children and families.”
  • When? September 10-13
  • Where? Memphis, TN
  • Why? Four days of solid advice and idea-sharing on how to modernize and improve the delivery of SNAP and TANF benefits.

APHSA’s IT Solutions Management for Human Services (ISM)

  • Who? Agency directors; program administrators; IT directors; federal/state officials
  • What? “For almost 50 years, the ISM Conference has served as the nation’s premiere forum for addressing how technology can be utilized to streamline business processes and improve automated support of Health and Human Services programs. ISM brings together federal, state, local and private sector thought leaders to discuss lessons learned, emerging issues and key trends relating to technology in health and human services.”
  • When? October 22-25
  • Where? Washington, DC
  • Why? Hands down one of our favorite conferences to hear from experts at the county, state, and federal level about the most important IT topics and innovations impacting human services.

Government IT Symposium

  • Who? Agency directors; IT directors; federal/state officials; county managers/commissioners
  • What? “The Government IT Symposium brings together over 1,000 IT leaders and professionals from across the spectrum of government agencies and systems, along with their private and civic sector partners, for three days of engagement, inspiration and information … to focus on using IT innovations, integration and intelligence to support the public good.”
  • When? Early December (exact date TBD)
  • Where? Paul, Minnesota
  • Why? Sessions on ensuring technology project success, building better relationships between business and IT, and the digital transformation of human services make this conference a great way to end the year and get inspired with new ideas to implement the next.


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