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 Monday, March 9, 2020 by Team Northwoods

Celebrating Social Workers: 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 support 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.

Read More
Posted Thursday, January 30, 2020 by Team Northwoods

Can't Miss Conferences for Human Services in 2020 [Updated!]

Editor's note: We're monitoring information to provide updates as conferences across the country get cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19. This post was most recently updated on May 12, 2020.

If one of your 2020 goals is to keep your finger on the pulse of key issues, trends, and topics impacting your agency and/or the community, industry conferences are a great way to get started.

We've vetted a lot of human services and digital government conferences over time, and we like to start each new year with our recommendations.

This list represents events that not only have excellent programming and speakers, but also build in time for attendees to network and discuss how they're addressing key opportunities and challenges.

Read More
Posted Wednesday, January 15, 2020 by Greg Tipping

Debunking Common Economic Assistance Myths and Misperceptions That Could Impact States’ Integrated Eligibility Efforts

With an election around the corner, economic assistance programs—especially the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid—and integrated eligibility systems have come under major public scrutiny.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there that leads people to ask questions based on false assumptions. For example, aren’t most people who receive assistance inappropriately taking advantage of the system? Don’t these programs discourage work? Do people receiving benefits really need them?

Read More
Posted Wednesday, January 8, 2020 by Rupam Chokshi

Hey Alexa, How Will Human Services Technology Change in the Next 10 Years?

For many, the new year signals a fresh start. A clean slate. The opportunity to think or act differently. What if we applied this same mindset to human services technology?

What if we stopped feeling restricted by outdated systems, processes, and policies, and focused instead on what we can do today that we couldn’t do in the past?

Read More
Posted Tuesday, December 17, 2019 by Team Northwoods

Readers' Choice Recap: Top Blog Posts of 2019

As another year comes to a close, it's time to recap our top blogs of 2019. Without further adieu, here's a countdown of this year's posts that our readers found most helpful.

(Remember, you can subscribe any time to make sure you never miss out!)

Read More
Posted Friday, November 15, 2019 by Rupam Chokshi

Machine-Assisted Social Work and the Future of Child Welfare Technology

When I think about the future of social work, I see immense possibilities, broad impact, and extensive societal change.

Technology has potential to empower the child welfare practice in ways we’ve never considered before. The tools exist and are being used in other industries; now we need to think about how to apply them at the right time and in the right context to connect and inform the people delivering services.

This begs the question: how do we make this era of machine-assisted social work a reality?

Read More
Posted Thursday, October 31, 2019 by Lauren Hirka

Don't Get Spooked by Artificial Intelligence for Child Welfare

Can artificial intelligence (AI) really help my caseworkers? Or is it all just a bunch of hocus pocus?

This is one of the most common questions we hear when introducing child welfare agencies to the concept of case discovery, which leverages AI. (Okay, maybe not the hocus pocus part … but come on, it’s Halloween!)

We interact with AI almost daily—think Siri, Alexa, or even your Roomba. It continues to gain traction in government and is seen as the emerging technology with the most potential by state chief information officers. Yet, the concept still seems scary in the context of child welfare.

Read More
Posted Wednesday, October 23, 2019 by Mark Washington

9 Tips for Financing Human Services Technology Projects

Editor's note: this post was originally published on August 15, 2017. We recently refreshed the list to give you twice the amount of helpful tips! 

Human services agencies face several hurdles when it comes to investing in technology.

Yet, even when resources are limited, it’s not impossible to come up with the money to purchase and maintain innovative technology solutions. (Plus, the short-term cost won’t seem so bad once you realize the long-term value of your investment!)

All it takes is a little upfront planning and creative thinking.

Read More
Posted Monday, October 14, 2019 by Lauren Hirka

Meeting Users Where They Are: Designing Technology for Enhanced Engagement

At Northwoods, we are focused on starting with why. I believe starting with why provides a constant reminder for the team of the collective goal we are all working toward, which is ultimately to improve outcomes for children and families by empowering the practice.

To do this, we need to meet the user where they are—both physically, and in terms of practice.

As one of APHSA’s 2019 Emerging Leaders, I was invited to present a poster at the annual ISM conference showcasing a solution that Northwoods has implemented.

I chose to present on this topic, Meeting Users Where They Are, because it influences every solution and service we offer.

Read More
Posted Wednesday, October 2, 2019 by Allison Mitsui

How Streamlined is Your Human Services Lobby?

Imagine you’re a working parent balancing three minimum wage jobs to provide stability for your family but find yourself needing to apply for temporary assistance to get by.

You don’t have much time between shifts, so you drive to your local agency to start the application process over your 45-minute lunch break … only to get stuck in line as soon as you enter the lobby. You’re not sure where to go or what to do. Do you stay and risk getting back to work late? Do you come back tomorrow and hope you’ll get served faster?

To the vulnerable citizens who need your help, a line in your lobby may feel like an immediate disservice.

Read More