Research Library

Our Research Library includes white papers, presentations, fact sheets, news articles, and templates from human services industry experts to help agencies implement technology in human services.

We’ve also reviewed each resource to help you:

  • Discover human services software solutions that work for your agency
  • Support your case for funding with stakeholders
  • Implement technology for caseworkers by gaining internal support

Note from the reviewer: My goal has always been a simple one: do the most good for the most children. As the former director of Fairfield County Child and Adult Protective Services in Ohio, I am fully aware of the administrative and direct service challenges associated with serving a community. In my role at Northwoods, I have the opportunity to share this Research Library, helping agencies discover new ways to overcome those challenges. I’ll add a new resource every few weeks, so check back or sign up to receive email notifications directly in your inbox.

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Research Library

  Title Author Last Modified            
A resource completed by Tom Adams, President and Senior Managing Partner of Transition Guides and Project Consultant for Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Executive Transition Management and Capacity Building Initiative. Capturing the Power of Leadership Change uses more than eleven different additional resources to highlight challenges, topics and recommendations for issues confronting organizations facing administrative transition periods.
A GOVERNING magazine article highlighting results from an informal poll of 20 officials from 17 states conducted by Government Technology. This article is great to share with staff within your organization. GOVERNING points to agency employees' fear of altering work habits and processes that have been in place for decades as the application of technology assumes a larger role. Additionally, the author points out the pitfalls that occur when an agency attempts to force new technology to work like the “old way of doing things.”
Whether your agency is deciding to take that first bold step towards becoming truly paperless or increasing the use of modern technology tools to promote quality services, it is important to also take the pulse of your community. This study out of Cuyahoga County, Ohio utilized surveys to obtain feedback and opinions of over 80 community organizations. Questions focused on thoughts surrounding the use of today’s technology to address the growing number of families in need while budgets continue to decline. In addition to these telling responses, also find interesting attitudes towards agency culture and workforce challenges in adapting to changes brought about by the introduction of technology.
When rolling out technology to social workers and caseworkers, Northwoods recommends using a coaching model. This allows technically savvy workers to serve as champions and team leaders. This sample survey from Northwoods will help agencies gauge individuals’ receptiveness and aptitude to learning new technology. Human services agencies can use results from the survey to implement an effective training program.
Great article and definitely worth the quick read. This blog effectively sums up what I have heard numerous, incredible, dedicated and committed social workers across the country verbalize. One of the statements offered in this article echoes statements made throughout child welfare agencies all over, “Child protection social work in particular has become so bureaucratic and paper-laden that 80% of a practitioner’s time is spent form-filling rather than supporting service users.” The author goes on to point out how this process contributes to high caseloads and long hours, which results in rapid burnout. There are also a number of supporting pieces associated with this article that are worth a click.
This white paper from Northwoods explores why the typical classroom-style approach to training does not work in child or adult protective services, where social workers are in the field dealing with difficult situations everyday. It outlines Northwoods' unique and distinct Coach Model training that provides an agency the ability to position itself for continued success long after implementation. The Coach Model is specifically designed for protective services to reduce frustration and increase the likelihood that social workers will completely adopt new technology, so agencies can maximize their technology investment.
Successful recruitment and retention continues to be an area demanding significant resources from child welfare organizations. The difficulty in retaining staff goes beyond dealing with a revolving door, it has a devastating impact on the families and children relying on your agency for services. As I have met with numerous Protective Services Directors and administrative personnel over the past several months, nearly all have requested assistance in helping to put together their “business case” to help educate their board members, elected officials and community regarding the importance to invest in front line staff and supervisors. The accompanying article from the Journal of the National Center for youth Law provides a simplified top 11 list that can be very helpful to those having conversations with key stakeholders. One of the themes represented in this journal article is the importance to properly equip today’s social workers with the proper technology.
"For those working in the field of protective services, days can be long and very stressful. As days turn into weeks and weeks into months, the cumulative weight of never-ending paperwork along with the emotional strain zaps the energy out of the most mission-driven social workers. As a result, retention within the field of protective services is always a hot topic and agencies are constantly searching for ways to keep quality staff. This article highlights the importance of investing in capabilities that frontline staff find valuable and how that can go a long way in encouraging them to remain as part of your team. Additionally, this piece provides an interesting perspective on retention for organizations that have an increasing number of staff working remotely or are much more mobile due to demands of being in the field more than in the office."
The deadline for states to opt in for the new Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) is not until July of next year, but when you consider all the factors that will likely precede a state’s decision to move forward, the timeline becomes much shorter. This article from FosterTech explores how states and agencies are reacting to a potential conversion to CCWIS, including how many states seem to be gun-shy about initiating an expensive technology shift. Our take? If states and ultimately local agencies can move from a system that is built to simply collect data to one that can help manage it behind the scenes, social workers have more time to actually do social work. CCWIS offers an opportunity for child welfare advocates to drive best practices, not just react to them. In numerous conversations with county directors, supervisors, and caseworkers, many are unaware of how they can inform or influence decisions being made at the state level. In fact, many see CCWIS as just the next Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS) with little change. It’s imperative that local practitioners feel informed and empowered to be involved in this next generation of systems aimed to help manage cases within child welfare. It’s time those experienced in serving on the frontlines – those who’ve carried caseloads or managed in a child welfare agency – take this opportunity to continue raising the bar to do what’s possible to deliver the highest quality of services to the most vulnerable.
Great piece from the Children’s Bureau featuring comments by Jerry Milner regarding the effort required to bring about systemic change within the child welfare system. Identifying the need to address meaningful change on “day-to-day practice” starts with caseworkers in the field and not just creating new policies.