Blog

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 Wednesday, December 20, 2017 by Team Northwoods

Top 7 Northwoods Blog Posts of 2017

It's that time again! As each year comes to a close, we like to recap the top blog posts from the last 365 days. If you're a new reader or subscriber, this is your chance to catch up on all the good stuff you might have missed.

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Posted Monday, December 4, 2017 by Team Northwoods

Celebrating 10 Years of Community Contributions

“Jessica and I were finishing up some Christmas shopping and this guy pulled out a credit card and paid for our purchase. His name is Jeff and his company Northwoods lets them do these random acts of kindness. They just became our Christmas miracle.”

This is the story of one family the Northwoods Foundation helped this past Christmas as part of its “Layaway Payoff”—an annual program meant to spread Christmas cheer to local families.

However, the “random” act of kindness shared in this story really wasn’t so random at all. It’s one of many ways the Northwoods Foundation provides a platform for Northwoods employees to give back and help fulfill a big mission: work together to leave a lasting and meaningful impact on the world. It exemplifies what the Northwoods Foundation is all about—helping people and communities in need.

This year marks the Foundation’s 10th anniversary, and we’re celebrating with a look back at some notable contributions and stories from the last 10 years.

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Posted Wednesday, October 25, 2017 by Aaron Caldwell

Troubleshooting Technology Problems in Human Services [Customer Story]

Editor's note: since this story was originally published, Northwoods partnered with the state of Ohio to implement an enterprise document management system (EDMS) across all 88 counties. We continue to support Lucas County DJFS through the statewide EDMS (versus individually when this story was published).

When the average worker has technical issues, he or she feels frustrated and productivity dips. When a human services caseworker faces technical issues, it affects his or her ability to serve thousands of families who rely on services like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Medicaid. This is the story of one Ohio county’s Department of Job & Family Services (DJFS) that relies on the Northwoods Support Center (NSC) to keep the system running at peak performance so workers can focus solely on helping clients.

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Posted Thursday, September 28, 2017 by Team Northwoods

What Causes Dark Data in Adult & Aging and Why Do You Need It?

As the population ages, more older adults are accessing services at an alarming rate. Increased demand for services leads to collecting more content in the form of notes, forms, and documents. Every piece of content has the potential to contain critical information about a case, but it gets buried deeper and deeper in the file as new information gets added.

No adult & aging, mental health, or long-term care social worker realistically has time to digest and apply the amount of both current and past information available to them, and “dark data”—critical, but hidden information—gets created as a result.

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Posted Tuesday, August 1, 2017 by Team Northwoods

Pitfalls of Relying on Too Much Paper in Human Services

Going paperless is a priority for plenty of human services agencies, yet many organizations lack funding, resources, or proper justification to invest in technology and are forced to continue relying on time-consuming, labor-intensive, paper-based file systems and processes.

For those readers that fall into the latter, consider this: maintaining the status quo could actually be doing more harm than good—and costing more—to your agency in the long run.

Below are five risks to think about if your agency relies too much on paper documents and manual processes.

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Posted Tuesday, June 13, 2017 by Rich Bowlen

What Causes Dark Data in Child Welfare? [Infographic]

Finding specific evidence to conclusively support a decision can be overwhelming, if not impossible, for child welfare social workers, supervisors, and directors.

Just think about it: if social workers were only responsible for one case, they (in theory) could spend all their time familiarizing themselves with the information in just that one case. Then, when it came time to make an important decision, they could feel confident about the intimate details of the child, family, or situation in question, and know exactly where to find the data they’d need to support their claim. But that’s not the case.

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Posted Tuesday, June 6, 2017 by Team Northwoods

Call to Action: Improving IT Procurement in Human Services

Government’s IT procurement process is under fire.

For starters, it’s rigorous, antiquated, and time-consuming—a sentiment that rings true whether you’re the program administrator requesting technology, the state official managing access to the technology, or the provider, like us, working diligently to get your technology in agencies’ hands to help them help others.

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Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2017 by Rich Bowlen

Traverse Case Discovery: Informed Decisions for Children and Families

Finding the best placement the first time for a child coming into care is every foster care or kinship social worker’s mission. But that’s easier said than done when you only have a partial understanding of the child’s story. What if you could uncover a complete history of previous placements, medications, behavioral issues, and other key information to shape your decision? 

Maybe you’re new to the case or an on call social worker required to immediately find a safe place for a child to stay the night. With little time and a lot at stake, you need a complete understanding of the family and case in a moment’s notice. What are the important medical and emotional needs? What can help minimize trauma? 

Imagine if a child's case file could talk to you. Imagine if you could gain immediate insights from a wealth of historical knowledge to make quick decisions about safety and lessen the hurt just a little.

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Posted Thursday, April 20, 2017 by Team Northwoods

Two Guys, One Idea, and the Possibility to Help Hundreds of Kids

Here at Northwoods, we’re big believers that our past should always shape our future. This week, we’re sharing a little piece of Northwoods’ history to give you a glimpse into where we’ve been and where we’re heading.

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Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2017 by Team Northwoods

A Social Worker with a Big Mission: Do the Most Good for the Most Kids

Here at Northwoods, we’re big believers that our past should always shape our future. This week, we’re sharing a little piece of Northwoods’ history to give you a glimpse into where we’ve been and where we’re heading.

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