Posted Friday, April 21, 2017 by Team Northwoods

The Big Idea Becomes Reality to Help Kids and Caseworkers

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’ historyas told by our executive vice president and chief operating officer, Chris Carlsonto give you a glimpse into where we’ve been and where we’re heading. This is chapter 4 (here are chapter 1, chapter 2, and chapter 3 in case you missed them).

Fast forward to today, and what was once just a big idea from some small-town guys has become a reality.

During a recent training, a dedicated protective services social worker was learning what this new software—the culmination of these small-town guys’ lives so far—could do.

The worker raced ahead of the scripted material because she wanted to see what this new tool might tell her about a case that had been gnawing at her for weeks.

You see, the details of the case concerned her.

A boy was in a less-than-ideal situation at home, but the worker could not identify any other living situation to send him to that wouldn't completely uproot his life. She didn’t want to cause additional trauma by moving the kid from the home he knew into the home of foster parents he didn't.

What made things even worse is that the social worker was constantly weighing and second guessing her decision to leave the boy at home, in some amount of danger, because she didn't want to traumatize him again by placing him with strangers.

The decision was keeping her up at night.

But this new tool she was learning had the potential to give her knowledge she didn't already have, so she started exploring this kid's life through all the new information she had just gotten her hands on.

It showed her a step-paternal grandmother in another county that she previously knew nothing about.

It showed her this grandmother had cared for the boy through some past summers.

It showed her there was a safe situation for the boy with someone who knew and cared about him, not someone who was a stranger to him.

It showed her she could make a better decision on behalf of the boy than the agonizing one she had been struggling with.

The social worker bravely admitted this story to Rich and the team conducting the training.

It is uncommon that we hear so directly from a social worker about the uninformed decision she had made ... a decision that social workers across the country are forced to make every day. But she let us know because in her hands was knowledge to make a difference in a kid's life, and maybe that meant other workers could find similar knowledge hiding in their case files too.

For Rich, it was the culmination of a career spent dedicated to saving kids.

For Gary and Richie, it was the culmination of a career spent building a company that did more than make money, but create products that could truly make a difference in the world.

Those guys. That kid.

Could you imagine?