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 Wednesday, August 17, 2022 by Team Northwoods

7 Ways to See If Your Technology Is Meeting Caseworkers’ Expectations

We may never be able to predict where the industry is heading in the next five to 10 years, but we do know there are some key issues facing human services today that will continue to impact the industry tomorrow. Modern technology is a linchpin in how successfully agencies can address them.

Our eBook, “Modernizing Human Services: Technology’s Integral Role in Addressing Key Issues,” dives into a few of these critical issues (think caseworker burnout and client disengagement) and explores the role that technology plays in overcoming each one. Keep reading for a short summary of how IT and program leaders can be the hero to human services caseworkers who need immediate support to help clients today, while positioning agencies for continued success in the long term.

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Posted Thursday, July 7, 2022 by Laura Haffield

What’s Working to Solve the Staffing Crisis in Human Services?

Since the pandemic and so called “Great Resignation,” the staffing crisis has hit helping professions hard. These days it seems everyone is talking about it ... and for good reason. Long term care facilities, treatment centers, day cares and schools, and human services agencies—very few have not felt the effects of unprecedented levels of turnover and vacant positions.

In fact, Aysha E. Schomburg, associate commissioner for the Children’s Bureau, acknowledged the scope of the problem on the Child Welfare Information Gateway podcast, saying “I’m hearing about the mass resignations that are happening in our field, and our field is frankly in crisis.”

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Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2022 by Team Northwoods

How CCWIS Federal Requirements Should Spark Systemic Change

Since 2016, the Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) final rule continues to change the way child welfare and human services leaders think about technology and innovation.

Beyond shifting the focus from monolithic to modular systems, it has sparked an industry-wide shift in thinking about how case data and information can and should be stored and shared for the good of the client. Further, it has empowered us to embrace flexibility and human-centered design, bring emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to the forefront, and raise the bar to deliver the highest quality of services to the most vulnerable.

These advances have been around in other industries for a while. To see them now making an impact in child welfare is exciting, especially when there hasn’t been an investment this big since Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS) regulations were first created in the early 90s!

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Posted Wednesday, February 9, 2022 by Team Northwoods

Success Tips: Realize Value with Cloud Technology for Human Services

As human services agencies have grown more comfortable with the idea of cloud technology, the conversation has shifted from “what should we do?” to “how do we get it right?”

In our experience, your agency will be more successful if you have a solid answer to that second question from the very beginning. If you recognize the difference between moving to the cloud simply to check a box and doing it in a purposeful, thoughtful way, you’re more likely to find a solution that provides long-term value and return on investment for both your agency and the community you serve.

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Posted Thursday, January 13, 2022 by Team Northwoods

Can't Miss Conferences for Human Services in 2022

Over the past several years, this blog post has become a go-to resource for readers looking for information about the best industry conferences to keep up to date on key issues, trends, and topics impacting human services.  

Well, like everything else, COVID-19 continues to impact many of the conferences and events we would typically recommend. Since things remain up in the air as we start the new year, many organizations are still figuring out their plans for moving forward. Despite all that, we want to provide some information to help you find the best events to fill your schedulein person or virtually.

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Posted Tuesday, December 7, 2021 by Team Northwoods

Links We Love: Best Practices for Modernizing Human Services Technology [Resource Roundup]

You want to read up on the important topics and trends impacting human services, but that’s much easier said than done when you’ve already got so much else on your plate.

Sound familiar? If so, we’ve got you covered.

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Posted Wednesday, October 6, 2021 by Team Northwoods

Solving Cybersecurity Problems in Human Services Before They Start

If you work in IT, the words “data loss” likely send shivers down your spine. If you work in IT for a human services agency, the stakes are even higher. No one wants to be responsible for a security breach or data leak that compromises your system integrity, threatens your clients’ privacy, or delays your agency’s ability to deliver services to the people who rely on you.

Of course, there’s the financial aspect to consider as well. Did you know ransomware victims in United States spent an average of $2.09 million in remediation costs in 2020?

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Posted Friday, September 17, 2021 by Rich Bowlen

Finding the Way Forward: What's Next for Human Services?

How do you plan for the “new normal” when normalcy no longer exists?

Yes, it’s a bold question and a tough concept to consider. But it’s reality. As I have continued to meet with numerous directors of local and state agencies throughout the country, there is still a lot of uncertainty and confusion.

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Posted Monday, August 23, 2021 by Jason Wintersteller

Build vs. Buy: Why COTS is the Smarter Choice for Human Services

Many human services agencies falsely believe their technology needs are so unique to justify building their own custom solution. In the long run, however, this could be a very costly mistake. A commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) product that can be configured to meet your needs and evolve over time can almost always do the job—with a considerably smaller strain on resources and faster time to value.

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Posted Wednesday, July 7, 2021 by Don Abney

To Code or Not to Code: What Platform is Best for Building Human Services Software?

Years ago, when I was leading technical teams at Nationwide Insurance, they launched the marketing slogan "Life comes at you fast." Some of the developers in the company quickly adopted the phrase for our own purposes. It rang true as we navigated the never-ending parade of new technology and new ways to design software.

It was, and still is, confusing to know what tools and methods to adopt. And we are the software people! If it’s confusing to us, it’s likely a dark art to the rest of the world. Some of the latest tools on the scene that we know people are still wrapping their heads around are low-code/no-code software development platforms. We thought it might be useful to share our thoughts on how they might benefit our readers.

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