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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 Thursday, October 19, 2017 by Rich Diers

What Cognitive Search Means for Social Services

Not too long ago, we were talking to a protective services caseworker who summed up one of the most common issues we hear from customers—not enough time to explore, digest, and understand critical information about a case before they can actually start managing it.

"I'm new and I'm getting cases that are transferred from another ongoing worker. A lot of my time is just spent trying to understand the case. I feel like I'm wasting a lot of time I could be doing actual interactions or providing services for the family."

We also heard from a Child Welfare program manager one of the biggest risks of not having all the critical information related to a case in front of you when making a decision: "Trying to serve on memory is dangerous in our line of work."

What do these two scenarios have in common? They both underscore the importance of having critical, relevant information in a digestible format at your fingertips when serving families. Cognitive search is an emerging trend that’s helping social services agencies do just that.

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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, April 25, 2017 by Rich Bowlen

Traverse Case Discovery: Confident Decisions. Safer 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 Monday, February 6, 2017 by Chuck Barber

Here’s How Lenoir County Broke the Social Worker Burnout Cycle in Child Welfare

Editor’s note: This testimonial references a product that will be sunset in 2022. Learn more about our next-generation child welfare technology or view more recent case studies.

Keeping case initiation rates high and turnover low are two big priorities for Child Welfare program managers; however, without the right tools and processes in place, both are much easier said than done. Just ask Lenoir County Department of Social Services (DSS).

In 2006, the turnover rate for Lenoir County’s Child Welfare unit was 73% because documentation requirements and emotional stress were taking such a big toll on social workers. Inefficient processes affected case initiation rates too, which hovered below the 95% state standard at 80-85%.

Now, workers have access to office-based and field-based document management solutions designed for Child Welfare 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.

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Posted Sunday, January 15, 2017 by Rich Bowlen

Dark Data is Hiding in Your Child Welfare Case Files

It is unrealistic for anyone in child welfare to remain constantly up to date on every case, especially when so much of the information is hiding in the dark. Yet, everyone expects the child welfare social worker to do just that.

Think about it: the average case file contains over a thousand documents, or approximately four to five thousand pages of informationand it's being added to every day by countless entities. On top of that, workers are managing an average 24-31 cases each.

How can a worker be expected to find the right information as quickly as necessary when they have to sift through so much information to find it?

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Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2016 by Team Northwoods

Top 6 Northwoods Blog Posts of 2016

Readers, rejoice!

It’s that time of year where we recap the can’t-miss blog posts of the last 365 days.

Whether you’re looking for customer success stories, technology adoption tips, or inspiration to keep on file for the days when you need to recharge, this list has got you covered.

So grab your reading glasses, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and catch up on the top 6 Northwoods blog posts of 2016. Happy reading!

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Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2016 by Rich Bowlen

Debunking Common Child Welfare Social Work Myths and Misperceptions

Social workers do too much. Social workers don’t do enough. Social workers make decisions on a whim. Social workers tear families apart.

If someone doesn’t understand the intricacies of working with families involved in a child welfare case, or realize the roller coaster of emotions felt when making decisions that affect a child’s life, it’s easy to make assumptions and judgments about what social workers do.

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Posted Friday, March 25, 2016 by Tiffany Himmelreich

What is the Best Thing About Social Work?

As part of our Marketing duties, my teammate Mae Wells-Kress and I travel the country talking to caseworkers and social workers. In those travels, we’ve asked dozens of people the samefour questions about what it means to be in social work.

  1. Why did you go into social work?
  2. What is the most challenging thing about social work?
  3. What stereotype about social work would you clear up?
  4. What is the best thing about social work?
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Posted Friday, March 18, 2016 by Tiffany Himmelreich

What Stereotype About Social Work Would You Clear Up?

As part of our Marketing duties, my teammate Mae Wells-Kress and I travel the country talking to caseworkers and social workers. In those travels, we’ve asked dozens of people the same four questions about what it means to be in social work.

  1. Why did you go into social work?
  2. What is the most challenging thing about social work?
  3. What stereotype about social work would you clear up?
  4. What is the best thing about social work?
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