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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 Tuesday, March 24, 2020 by Rich Bowlen

Managing Remote Teams in Human Services

Human services agencies are always adapting to meet the needs of the children, families, and a seemingly constant change in the landscape.

For many of us, from leadership to frontline workers, this has meant adjusting to the reality that as much work as possible must be done outside the agency’s walls to preserve the health and safety of our vulnerable communities.

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Posted Thursday, March 12, 2020 by Rupam Chokshi

Putting the 'Human' Back in Human Services Through Robotic Process Automation

Human services agencies are constantly fighting to make time for meaningful, high-value work with clients, while maintaining compliance and maximizing efficiency.

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Posted Thursday, January 30, 2020 by Team Northwoods

Can't Miss Conferences for Human Services in 2020

Editor's note: This post was originally published on January 15, 2018. We continue to update it annually.

If one of your 2020 goals is to keep your finger on the pulse of key issues, trends, and topics impacting your agency and/or the community, industry conferences are a great way to get started.

We've vetted a lot of human services and digital government conferences over time, and we like to start each new year with our recommendations.

This list represents events that not only have excellent programming and speakers, but also build in time for attendees to network and discuss how they're addressing key opportunities and challenges.

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Posted Wednesday, January 8, 2020 by Rupam Chokshi

Hey Alexa, How Will Human Services Technology Change in the Next 10 Years?

For many, the new year signals a fresh start. A clean slate. The opportunity to think or act differently. What if we applied this same mindset to human services technology?

What if we stopped feeling restricted by outdated systems, processes, and policies, and focused instead on what we can do today that we couldn’t do in the past?

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Posted Friday, November 15, 2019 by Rupam Chokshi

Machine-Assisted Social Work and the Future of Child Welfare Technology

When I think about the future of social work, I see immense possibilities, broad impact, and extensive societal change.

Technology has potential to empower the child welfare practice in ways we’ve never considered before. The tools exist and are being used in other industries; now we need to think about how to apply them at the right time and in the right context to connect and inform the people delivering services.

This begs the question: how do we make this era of machine-assisted social work a reality?

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Posted Thursday, October 31, 2019 by Lauren Hirka

Don't Get Spooked by Artificial Intelligence for Child Welfare

Can artificial intelligence (AI) really help my caseworkers? Or is it all just a bunch of hocus pocus?

This is one of the most common questions we hear when introducing child welfare agencies to the concept of case discovery, which leverages AI. (Okay, maybe not the hocus pocus part … but come on, it’s Halloween!)

We interact with AI almost daily—think Siri, Alexa, or even your Roomba. It continues to gain traction in government and is seen as the emerging technology with the most potential by state chief information officers. Yet, the concept still seems scary in the context of child welfare.

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Posted Wednesday, October 23, 2019 by Mark Washington

9 Tips for Financing Human Services Technology Projects

Editor's note: this post was originally published on August 15, 2017. We recently refreshed the list to give you twice the amount of helpful tips! 

Human services agencies face several hurdles when it comes to investing in technology.

Yet, even when resources are limited, it’s not impossible to come up with the money to purchase and maintain innovative technology solutions. (Plus, the short-term cost won’t seem so bad once you realize the long-term value of your investment!)

All it takes is a little upfront planning and creative thinking.

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Posted Monday, October 14, 2019 by Lauren Hirka

Meeting Users Where They Are: Designing Technology for Enhanced Engagement

At Northwoods, we are focused on starting with why. I believe starting with why provides a constant reminder for the team of the collective goal we are all working toward, which is ultimately to improve outcomes for children and families by empowering the practice.

To do this, we need to meet the user where they are—both physically, and in terms of practice.

As one of APHSA’s 2019 Emerging Leaders, I was invited to present a poster at the annual ISM conference showcasing a solution that Northwoods has implemented.

I chose to present on this topic, Meeting Users Where They Are, because it influences every solution and service we offer.

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Posted Monday, September 9, 2019 by Rupam Chokshi

Answering Your Commonly Asked Cloud Questions

I recently read a Forbes article about government and the future of cloud. This line caught my attention:

“For many, cloud adoption is no longer an ‘if,’ it's a ‘when.’ The benefits of the public cloud are becoming too great to ignore.”

While I agree with this statement, I’m not so sure human services is as far along as other government programs. There are plenty of counties, and even some states, still in the process of wrapping their heads around what—if any—cloud-based technologies are right for their needs.

I know many of you still have questions and concerns about the cloud, so this post will help address them.

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Posted Wednesday, September 4, 2019 by Team Northwoods

The Northwoods Guide to IT Solutions Management (ISM) 2019

APHSA’s IT Solutions Management (ISM) for Human Services Conference is hands down one of our favorite conferences of the year. It’s a great opportunity to hear from experts at all levels of government about the most important IT topics and innovations impacting human services.

That said, we know ISM can also be overwhelming—especially if you’ve never been before.

We asked our team to share their advice to help you make the most of the 2019 conference, including tips for first-time attendees, sessions we suggest adding to your agenda, and of course, all the ways you can connect with Northwoods. We look forward to seeing you in Milwaukee!

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