Posted Wednesday, May 6, 2015 by Rich Bowlen

Closing the Compliance Gap

“If it’s not documented, it didn’t happen.”

How many times have you said this human services mantra? Dozens? Hundreds? You’ve said it enough to know why meeting compliance mandates is essential: the local, state and federal government uses the data to ensure agencies are appropriately serving clients, guide future funding, and to plan for the future.

On the flip side, social workers didn’t get into the field to do paperwork. Social workers want to have that personal, social, human interaction in order to help improve lives, which requires them to spend quality time with families to achieve better outcomes such as eliminating recidivism and promoting parental engagement.

Here’s the Compliance Catch-22: Agencies have to meet mandates AND ensure service delivery. However, spending time with families leaves little time to document the work, and documenting the work leaves little time to spend with families.

Agency workers feel that divide. In our recent compliance survey, 64% of human services directors, program managers, and supervisors said audits take time away from serving families.


Systems to collect compliance data are great for what they were designed for: storing case and client data, which helps set the stage for funding requests and future initiatives. However, those systems are simply not as useful to a social worker in real-time, while they are in front of the family experiencing intense or emotional situations.

What’s missing is a system to help social workers automate their processes to access information and capture documentation in the moment so they don’t have to think ‘Am I documenting my work?’ and they can focus on ‘Am I getting this child or family the services they need?’ 

So how can human services agencies bridge the gap?

Social workers need a tool in the field that works the way they work and follows their natural, proven methods to gather information and connect with families. It should provide the ability to access and capture key information, such as referral forms for community services, law enforcement reports, or individual education plans.

In addition to better service delivery, agencies achieve increased compliance because social workers can collect data and documents and automatically index them to the client right away, versus relying on memory or waiting to document their work long after a visit. This allows the social worker to keep the family and child as the center of attention. Here are some of the major benefits a process change can bring your agency:

  • Increase Service Levels
  • Operate Strategically
  • Respond Confidently to Audits
  • Function Proactively
  • Support State Efforts

To learn more, download the Webinar recording, Closing the Compliance Gap: Where Mandates and Service Delivery Meet, where we highlight how agencies can automate the documentation process, easing the burden on social workers and allowing them to focus on the families they serve. [Updated 6.16.15]