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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, July 24, 2019 by Rich Bowlen

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway—5 Ideas to Create Meaningful Change in Child Welfare

“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.” 
— John F. Kennedy

Life is a series of calculated risks and decisions. We know it pays off to take risks to advance our professional and personal lives, so let me ask you a few questions: why aren’t we doing the same for the children who rely on us? Why are we so hesitant to take bold action on behalf of innocent kids enduring some of life’s most horrific atrocities?

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Posted Tuesday, March 19, 2019 by Team Northwoods

An Essential Reading List for Human Services Agency Leaders

No matter how many different priorities human services agency leaders juggle, one thing always remains the same: wanting to deliver the best possible experience and outcomes for the families that rely on your agency’s services.

That means carving out time to research what trends, tools, and emerging technologies can have the most significant impact on the industry, as well as what can be learned from other agencies, programs, or states.

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite government, human services, and technology websites to help you get ahead of the curve. You can also follow all the sites mentioned below (and more!) with our Twitter list.

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Posted Monday, January 7, 2019 by Team Northwoods

9 Can't Miss Conferences for Human Services in 2019

Editor's note: This post was originally published on January 15, 2018, but we recently updated/expanded the list. New conferences for 2019 are denoted with an asterisk.

New year, new opportunities! If one of your 2019 goals is to keep your finger on the pulse of key issues, trends, and topics impacting your agency and/or community, industry conferences are a great way to get started.

We've vetted and attended a lot of conferences over time, and we like to start each new year with a list of recommendations. This list represents events that not only have amazing programming and speakers, but also build in time for attendees to network, share ideas, and discuss how they're addressing key opportunities and challenges.

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Posted Friday, September 14, 2018 by Chris Carlson

Health and Human Services Technology for High-Value Work (Q&A with Rupam Chokshi, 2018 APHSA Emerging Leader)

Rupam Chokshi, director of product marketing, has been an integral part of our organization for many years and continues to help us grow and improve. His in-depth knowledge of the health and human services (HHS) sector, modernization of technology, and improvement of business processes is a key factor in Northwoods’ ability to build software solutions that are designed around solving state and local HHS agencies’ most important problems. 

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Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2018 by Rupam Chokshi

Tech Talk 101: 30 Child Welfare Technology and Business Terms to Know

Child welfare technology is constantly evolving: trends ebb and flow, policies and mandates change, and new tools become available seemingly every day.

Beyond changing how work gets done, it’s also changing the way you talk about it—both about your challenges and how technology can be used to help solve them.

We’ve compiled a list of terms you’ve likely heard in conversation or come across in practice articles related to technology, along with their definitions, how they relate to each other, and what they mean for child welfare.

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Posted Wednesday, May 9, 2018 by Rupam Chokshi

5 Ways a System of Engagement Benefits Child Welfare

Modernizing to the new Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) creates a major opportunity for child welfare organizations to apply innovative solutions to overcome systematic barriers.

However, too many states and agencies may still view CCWIS as the next Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS) with little change.

Where SACWIS was more of a “one-size-fits-all” model, CCWIS allows agencies to tailor their IT needs to align with their unique program requirements.

This opens the door for child welfare organizations to consider next-generation technology, like a system of engagement, that revolutionizes how social workers deliver services and interact with clients.

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Posted Thursday, March 15, 2018 by Rich Bowlen

How Does the Opioid Epidemic Impact Child Welfare Caseworkers?

Kristi Burre has spent almost 20 years working in public service and child protection, but she’s never seen a greater need to support her caseworkers than she does today.

As Deputy Director of Fairfield County Child and Adult Protective Services in Ohio, Kristi has a front row seat to watch how the opioid epidemic wreaks havoc both inside and outside the agency’s walls.

As a result, she says, “The needs of our families, the needs of our children, and the needs of our system are more critical than they’ve ever been before.”

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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 6, 2017 by Rich Diers

Call to Action: Improving IT Procurement in Human Services

Government’s IT procurement process is under fire.

For starters, it’s rigorous, antiquated, and time-consuming—a sentiment that rings true whether you’re the program administrator requesting technology, the state official managing access to the technology, or the provider, like us, working diligently to get your technology in agencies’ hands to help them help others.

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Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by Rich Bowlen

New Research and Reading Recommendations for Child Welfare

The more you know, the better decisions you can make on behalf of a child. But finding time to sift through research and read up on the trends impacting the industry is easier said than done.

As the former director of a child and adult protective services agency, I know how hard it is to keep up with the information in your own cases, let alone what’s going on outside the agency’s walls. That’s why I try to always carve out time to identify valuable tools, links, and resources that can help any director researching critical topics and trends like change management, CCWIS, and technology in social work.

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