Customer Story

Northwoods and Ohio Department of Job and Family Services: Child Welfare

Traverse® is helping Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) child welfare workers collect and access case information to make key decisions about child safety.


Since April 2018, Ohio child welfare workers have used Traverse, Northwoods’ document management, forms management, and mobility software, to work more efficiently from anywhere while maintaining a high level of service to families.

Child welfare workers use Traverse as part of Ohio’s centralized document management system for child care, child support, child welfare, Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

In 2017, the State of Ohio’s Department of Administrative Services (Ohio DAS), on behalf of ODJFS and Ohio Department of Medicaid, engaged Northwoods to implement the Ohio Enterprise Document Management System (EDMS) solution across the entire state.

“Traverse is one of the main tools that has allowed us to be more flexible. We can do our work from anywhere."


Performance, Evaluation, and Innovation Senior Manager, Cuyahoga County Children & Family Services


Social workers in child welfare struggled to effectively manage case content while causing the least disruption to a child’s life, well-being, and self-worth.

They were challenged to collect investigation-driven interview documents and collateral evidence, and complete state, local, and provider forms in a timely, error-free manner.

Social workers had to analyze an overabundance of case information but lacked tools to uncover supports and critical information buried deep within a child’s case history.

The need for mobility to access case information securely, from anywhere, and regardless of connectivity has always been critical in child welfare but became that much more important when the pandemic hit.


The project kicked off in April 2018 as part of the statewide project to bring on around 4,000 child welfare workers.

Traverse software features:

  • Collect documents and collateral evidence in the field in connected or disconnected states
  • Complete state, local, and provider forms, assessments, and activity logs regardless of location or connectivity
  • Easily retrieve information using filters and text search
  • Share case content across the agency, other counties, and the state
  • Access transcribed audio and video files
  • Discover critical, previously hidden case information
  • Create case timelines to support county-, state-, and court-related mandates
  • Collaborate with peers and contracted service providers
  • Get support from in-app help such as interactive walk-through videos or live chat, in addition to the EDMS Help Desk


Traverse is integrated with Ohio’s Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS) and Hyland Software’s OnBase®.

Case and client demographic information is pulled from SACWIS to Traverse. The real-time sync gives workers immediate access to the information anywhere, anytime regardless of connectivity. Social workers can also fill out activity logs (also referred to as case narratives or notes) in Traverse, which are sent back to SACWIS as data fields. Thanks to the collaboration of the Ohio SACWIS team, the integration reduces duplicative work for social workers.

Documents are also pulled in from OnBase into Traverse. As part of the project, Northwoods worked with counties to migrate local document management systems content into Traverse, ensuring that Traverse could become a true central repository for case content.

Collect case content

Caseworkers use Traverse’s web-based application in the office to scan and upload documents and a companion mobile app to easily take photos and complete forms during home visits. Northwoods has designed over 2,000 state, local and provider forms for workers to complete. Demographic information is autofilled into electronic forms from the web-based and mobile applications and electronic signatures can be applied.

“Traverse is organized almost like a table of contents, and you can find what you’re looking for so much easier than digging through a bunch of paper copies,” said the former MIS Manager for Richland County Children Services.

Case discovery

All the data and content collected is automatically analyzed by Traverse using artificial intelligence to surface hidden information to help caseworkers make informed, confident decisions about safety. Since implementing the project, over 21.5 million content items have been added to Traverse. Content is easy to search and retrieve, and workers can quickly extract critical information. This includes not only text from documents, but also 157,680 hours (or 18 years) worth of audio and video files that are now full text searchable.

“Having access to information and spending more time with family really improves our decision-making around keeping kids safe,” said Kara Davis, Performance, Evaluation, and Innovation Senior Manager, Cuyahoga County Children & Family Services.

“One of the key things to making good decisions is having access to historical information. Nobody has time to go through a case file of the last five years to figure out what's going on with this family when you have to respond to an emergency about child safety.”


Ohio child welfare social workers use Traverse to work from anywhere, bringing it with them into the field or accessing it from home or any remote location, to effortlessly collect case content and create case documentation. They use Traverse to easily collaborate with their peers and contracted service providers.

Insight into case history

Caseworkers leverage Traverse to gain new insights into their cases and achieve a holistic view of each child’s past and present. Traverse automates agency business processes and positively impacts how child welfare caseworkers interact with children, youth, and families.

“Traverse is reading every single word on every single paper that's ever been in that file and it's giving you information about that family,” Kara said.

“The ability to retrieve documents with Traverse is very beneficial. However, the system does so much more – case content discovery of common family themes, events, and people mentions. These features allow a supervisor, management, or newly assigned worker to quickly gain snapshots of the family,” said the former MIS Manager for Richland County Children Services.

More efficiency

Because caseworkers and social workers can securely share documents across program areas, the solution improves efficiency and allows workers to provide holistic service to the client.

“We're being more efficient and we're not being redundant in the work that we do. Traverse is one of the main tools that has allowed us to be more flexible. We can do our work from anywhere,” Kara said.

All data and information are encrypted and securely stored to maintain security requirements.

Support and retain workers

In this time of unprecedented burnout and turnover, providing tools to workers is helping support current staff and attract the next generation of workers.

“I think that having the technology itself really speaks to the younger generation. We are attracting them and maintaining them because they have the tools they need in order to do the job they have to do,” Kara said.




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