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.

Laura Haffield's Articles

Laura Haffield
Laura Haffield draws on her experience in public child welfare to ensure social workers are the most important person in every decision we make.
Posted Tuesday, April 9, 2024 by Laura Haffield

Social Services SOS: Creative Solutions to Stabilize Staffing

High turnover and low retention in human services, particularly child welfare, is not new. We've been talking about it for decades. For the last several years we've discussed social work burnout, worker well-being, and retention and recruitment strategies on our blog as well.

The consequences of high turnover are felt by both agencies and the citizens they serve. In nearly every Annual Progress and Services Report (APSR) published in the last couple years by the states, staffing issues are cited as a main barrier towards agencies meeting their goals for improving service and making progress towards important system changes. It is also well documented that turnover of caseworkers negatively impacts child and families.

It feels dire, and it sure keeps many leaders across the country up at night. But what gives us hope is that so many industry leaders refuse to give up trying to create more sustainable systems that support better, more equitable delivery of services.

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Posted Wednesday, February 14, 2024 by Laura Haffield

Stories from the Heart: Reflecting on Our Impact in Human Services

Ask anyone at Northwoods what has made us successful for the last twenty years and they’ll say it’s our mission-driven people who love nothing more than making an impact. We truly do love partnering with our customers throughout their change journey, and seeing our shared hard work make positive changes for workers, supervisors, administrators, and ultimately the people they serve. That focus on mission and love of witnessing transformation is our secret sauce.

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I wanted to share some stories from those at Northwoods who work with our partner agencies every day. I asked our teams to share in their own words times they have felt they made an impact or were really proud of the work we accomplished with our customers.

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Posted Friday, June 30, 2023 by Laura Haffield

Unlocking Innovation: How Code for America and Minnesota are Charting a New Path

The public health emergency has significantly altered the delivery of government assistance programs over the past four years and has also spurred on a great deal of innovation to better serve those in need. Traditional concepts of what it looks like to apply for benefits have drastically changed.

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Posted Thursday, April 6, 2023 by Laura Haffield

Modern Technology Tools for Supporting the Human Services Workforce

The current workforce crisis facing the helping professions, including all programs within human services, unfortunately isn’t going away any time soon. Workforce issues will be top of mind for both local and state human services agencies for the next several years, as well as a priority communicated by federal partners. As we come out of Social Work Month with a renewed focus on empowering workers, what better time to talk about how technology is supporting the workforce today?

At Northwoods, we take pride in developing tools that help ease the day-to-day burdens on caseworkers and social workers across the country so they can focus on clients and families. However, we know that’s just one piece of the puzzle. A lot of today’s most impactful technology is targeted toward supporting workers themselves. This is critical since a happy and stable workforce has long been shown to have dramatic positive impacts on the citizens they serve.

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Posted Monday, November 21, 2022 by Laura Haffield

How Academic Institutions Help Strengthen the Human Services Workforce

In a recent blog on solving the human services staffing crisis, I mentioned wanting to shout from the rooftops about partnerships between academic institutions and local and state agencies.

My bias is showing in this area due to my time in the University of Wisconsin–Madison Title IV-E Public Child Welfare Training Program and seeing that partnership between academia and local child welfare agencies play out to the benefit of all stakeholders involved. Without that program, and the mentorship and funding that came along with it, I may not have become a committed child welfare practitioner who, despite transitioning away from direct practice, is still dedicated to this field today.

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Posted Thursday, July 7, 2022 by Laura Haffield

What’s Working to Solve the Staffing Crisis in Human Services?

Since the pandemic and so called “Great Resignation,” the staffing crisis has hit helping professions hard. These days it seems everyone is talking about it ... and for good reason. Long term care facilities, treatment centers, day cares and schools, and human services agencies—very few have not felt the effects of unprecedented levels of turnover and vacant positions.

In fact, Aysha E. Schomburg, associate commissioner for the Children’s Bureau, acknowledged the scope of the problem on the Child Welfare Information Gateway podcast, saying “I’m hearing about the mass resignations that are happening in our field, and our field is frankly in crisis.”

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Posted Tuesday, May 31, 2022 by Laura Haffield

Self-Care is So Yesterday: How to Re-Focus on Worker Well-Being and Foster Psychological Safety

“We need to talk about how we bake resilience into systems and teams. Otherwise, the onus is back on the person under stress.” – Dr. Tiffany Lindsey, EdD, LPC-MHSP

I recently listened to Dr. Lindsey speak as part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Social Work Public Child Welfare Training Program Spring Dialogue, and I’ve been thinking about this concept ever since. So much so that I asked Dr. Lindsey, an assistant professor and Safe Systems Practitioner at the University of Kentucky, if she would virtually sit down with me afterwards to speak more on safety culture, promoting worker well-being, and her work with the National Partnership for Child Safety.

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Posted Monday, October 18, 2021 by Laura Haffield

Change is Hard, Even in Human Services—Here’s How to Ease the Burden

Change is hard, even for people in human services whose entire jobs are affecting change in others. Change is hard for everyone, maybe especially for social workers (and the people who support them) whose jobs are already so difficult.

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