Arkansas-based United Family Services’ caseworkers are in the human services field because they care about people, not for the love of paperwork. United Family Services’ goal is to keep families together with programs aimed at reducing the number of juvenile offenders sent to the State Youth Services Center and decreasing placement of children into foster care. This non-profit implemented DocuWare Cloud to manage case files between five offices that serve more than 700 clients.
Before DocuWare Cloud, the agency was completely paper driven and transferring files between offices was inconvenient. If a client moved to another catch, a staff member would have to drive the file to another office. Files were often quite large, and the agency was running out of space to archive all this paper. In addition, the policies and procedures they had in place to secure their files and check for missing documents were labor-intensive and inefficient.
At the start of the process, Special Program Manager Lekita Thomas set up a series of workshops with her supervisors to standardize document and form names across programs and develop a uniform list of index fields. The agency’s intake form was revised to make it relevant for all programs, so information wasn't duplicated. With DocuWare Cloud, document archiving is automated and so the agency policy of retaining case files for 7 years is accomplished without manual touch.
DocuWare is also in use UFS’s Human Resources department. Setting up security and controlled access rights to meet privacy requirements was straightforward. The agency converted their HR forms to online forms that are automatically indexed and stored when the new employee hits the “submit” button.
Caseworkers started using DocuWare Cloud immediately for all new client intake. The second step was to scan all active files into DocuWare. To speed up this process, the agency hired and trained “scan workers” who completed this project in just two months.
“Moving away from paper was hard for some of our employees but after a few weeks of seeing the benefits of a digital document solution and the user-friendliness of DocuWare Cloud, those that initially opposed came back to us to tell us how much they really liked the new system,” Thomas explained.
|Advantages DocuWare Cloud brings to UFS|
|1. The cloud subscription model is cost-effective and budget friendly|
|2. Improved information security is coupled with quick, easy access to information by authorized personnel.|
|3. Implementation of an automated document retention process.|
|4. Clients who participate in multiple agency programs fill out one electronic form. This eliminates manual data entry and improves the client intake experience.|
|5. UFS employees who checked paper files in and out of the file room have been reassigned to other tasks that better serve the agency’s mission.|
|6. Increased transparency improves employee accountability|
Less routine work creates a happier staff
As a result of having less paperwork to complete, caseworkers have more time to spend with their clients. “I had a caseworker take her client to a community college to enroll in school. The client felt very out of his element, so his caseworker took the time to sit with him throughout the entire financial aid process,” she said. "DocuWare Cloud has lifted a burden for my caseworkers. They always made time for their clients, but now they have the flexibility to really make a difference.”
Now that DocuWare Cloud is in place, the agency’s file rooms have been repurposed and turned into an on-site clothing distribution center for children and adults clothing. “We may have a client going to a job interview with nothing appropriate to wear. A quick stop at our clothes closet can make all the difference. I’m so glad that we now have the space to provide this service,” Thomas said.
For Thomas, the biggest benefit is the increase in employee accountability. “I never need to ask an employee, ‘How many visits did you do this week?’ I can just look up the information in DocuWare. I love the transparency it brings to our process,” she said.
Joan Honig is Marketing Content Manager at DocuWare.