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.

This year's list is full of inspirational stories, tips and tools to help you improve productivity and reduce stress, and a deep dive into "dark data"one of the social services industry's most important and impactful trends.

Happy reading!

(By the way, want to get more great articles like these—written just for human services—delivered straight to your inbox next year? Subscribe here.)


Dark Data is Hiding in Your Child Welfare Case Files(7) Dark Data is Hiding in Your Child Welfare Case Files

"Dark data"—hidden, but critical case information—is some of the most valuable information a Child Welfare organization has about children and families; however, it's often the most difficult for social workers to manage.

Without a way to access and apply this critical information, workers are forced to make uninformed decisions. Without knowing the whole story, workers can’t truly protect the children in their care.

In this post, we recommend four things your agency must do if you want to be able to uncover and use dark data.


What Causes Dark Data in Child Welfare? [Infographic](6) What Causes Dark Data in Child Welfare? [Infographic]

So, how and why is "dark data" created in the first place?

Workers are often managing 15 or 20 cases at once, if not more, that in most situations they’ve inherited from previous workers. On top of the thousands of pages that already exist in each case file, new documents get added daily.

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 more new information gets added.

This blog post and infographic can help you better understand what causes dark data to exist in Child Welfare, and why it’s critical for your agency to find it. 


Gary Heinze: Just a Small-Town Guy Wanting to Make a Difference in the World(5) Just a Small-Town Guy Wanting to Make a Difference in the World

We’re big believers that our past should always shape our future.

This story—chapter 1 of a 4-part series told by our executive vice president and chief operating officer, Chris Carlson—shares a little piece of Northwoods’ history.

We hope it gives you a glimpse into where the company has been, where we’re heading,
and most importantly, how our customers have helped along the way.


Here's How Lenoir County Broke the Social Worker Burnout Cycle in Child Welfare(4) Here's How Lenoir County Broke the Social Worker Burnout Cycle in Child Welfare

In 2006, Lenoir County Department of Social Services (DSS) had a 73% turnover rate within its Child Welfare unit because documentation requirements and emotional stress were taking such a big toll on social workers. At fault was a manual, paper-based process.

Now, workers have access to office-based and field-based document management solutions that give them more time to focus on engaging clients, building trust, and delivering quality service.

As a result, turnover has decreased to 17% and social workers are consistently exceeding the state standard for case initiation with a 97% rate.

In the words of one of the county's assessments social workers,

"This has been life changing. I feel like I'm providing quality services to the families that we serve by spending more time with them. Gone is the stigma of what's presented on TV about child protective services social workers just going in and stealing children from their families, just making profit.”


10 Tips on Self-Care for Social Workers(3) 10 Tips on Self-Care for Social Workers

Social workers often spend so much of their time advocating and standing up for children and families that they sometimes overlook the importance of taking care of themselves.

While the rewards of being a social worker are plentiful, the job can take its toll—mentally and physically.

This blog post and infographic highlight 10 simple ways social workers can practice self-care, manage stress and burnout, and boost their well-being.


Social Workers Share 'Stories That Stick' to Celebrate Social Work Month(2) Social Workers Share 'Stories That Stick' to Celebrate Social Work Month

Every social worker has that one story they'll never forget.

On the most difficult days, it's this story, this memory that reminds them why they got started in the first place.

In honor of Social Work Month, we invited social workers from Carver County Health & Human Services (HHS) and Sherburne County Health & Human Services (HHS) to share with us the children and families that have stuck with them over the years.


35 Apps for the Mobile Social Worker(1) 35 Apps for the Mobile Social Worker [Expanded]

Just because you’re often away from the office doesn’t mean you have to be away from information and tools to enhance the work you’re doing in the field.

We've compiled 35 apps to help mobile social workers stay connected and safe, save time, engage kids and adults, find resources for clients, and deal with stress.

(Editor's note: This is a list we've been continuously refreshing and expanding since 2013.
See one of your favorites missing? Let us know and we'll add it!)


Thanks for reading along this year, friends. We’ll see you in ’18!

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