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 Tuesday, February 18, 2020 by Rupam Chokshi

An Introduction to Robotic Process Automation for Human Services

Government agencies are beginning to leverage an emerging technology, robotic process automation (RPA), to streamline tasks and reduce administrative burdens. GovLoop’s eBook dives into how RPA works and what makes it successful, plus provides six examples of RPA in action at the state level.

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Posted Wednesday, January 15, 2020 by Greg Tipping

Debunking Economic Assistance Myths That Impact Integrated Eligibility

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?

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Posted Wednesday, January 8, 2020 by Team Northwoods

Hey Alexa, How Will Human Services Technology Change in 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What if we stopped feeling restricted by outdated systems, processes, and policies, and focused instead on what we can do today that we couldn’t do in the past?

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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!)

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Posted Friday, November 15, 2019 by Rupam Chokshi

Machine-Assisted Social Work: 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?

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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.

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Posted Wednesday, October 23, 2019 by Team Northwoods

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.

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Posted Monday, October 14, 2019 by Lauren Hirka

Designing Technology to Enhance Engagement & Meet Users Where They Are

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.

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Posted Tuesday, October 1, 2019 by Team Northwoods

Family First Prevention Services Act: Navigating the Road Ahead

We know many states and agencies still have lingering questions and concerns surrounding the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), so we’ve rounded up several recent articles and resources to help you assess your options, plan for the best way to move forward, and navigate the impending change.

Editor’s note: we originally published this post on June 11, 2019. Since FFPSA has now officially gone into effect (despite most states delaying implementation), we’re continuously updating it to include new resources.

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Posted Wednesday, August 28, 2019 by Team Northwoods

Total Integration of Human Services: Does Child Support Hold the Key?

“Child support is for the child. To do right by the child, sometimes you have to make sure the parents are okay.”

This quote was shared during a session on the future of human services program delivery at last week’s National Child Support Enforcement Association (NCSEA) Leadership Symposium. It resonates because it underscores how all areas of human services are connected. Sure, each program may have its own policies and processes, but at the end of the day they’re ultimately serving the same people, and we need to start treating them that way.

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