iCarol is very proud and excited to be an exhibitor at the first ever virtual Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) E-Conference being held September 16-18.
The AIRS Conference is one of our favorite events of the year, so we’re very excited to take part in their virtual event beginning today. While things are a bit different this year, we are thrilled to see how resilient and adaptive the I&R community has been in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Amidst handling a record number of requests for their services the organizations and professionals in this space have found ways to innovate and reach even more people, often while working remotely.
For agencies serving older adults and those with disabilities, another industry highly active at this conference, they serve a population that is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, who still require social connections and other services while maintaining social distance. Aging organizations have stepped up in amazing ways to provide consistency and reassurance.
Of course, it’s really no surprise to us that these industries have been so responsive to unprecedented challenges – 2-1-1s and I&R professionals are famous for their ability to find creative solutions to almost any challenge!
At our booth this week we have lots of information to share about our *NEW* iCarol features that empower 2-1-1s and other I&R services to:
- Rapidly respond during disasters and other emergencies
- Document data needed to submit reimbursement requests
- Meet people on preferred communication channels
- Collaborate with Community-Based Organizations to address Social Determinants of Health
- Participate in CIE and No Wrong Door initiatives
- Integrate with other software and systems
- Provide Closed-Loop referral and collect outcome data
In the weeks, months, and even years ahead, communities will continue to face hardships around finances, housing, employment, food insecurity, and access to healthcare as a result of this pandemic. We hope during these busy few days of virtually learning at AIRS attendees will find time to stop by our 2-1-1 services booth or Older Adult and Disability services booth and learn about all the latest solutions iCarol has to offer to help 2-1-1s, Aging and Disability services, and other Information and Referral centers meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.
Guest Blogger Josh Siegel is a PhD Candidate at the University of Amsterdam. His research focuses on service provider well-being. After earning a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona, he moved to Amsterdam, where he obtained a Master’s degree.
Guest blogger views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of CharityLogic/iCarol, or iCarol’s parent company, Harris Computer Systems.
Child helplines offer support and information to children for a wide variety of issues such as abuse and violence, bullying, sexuality, family, homelessness, health and discrimination. As such, child helplines fulfill the United Nations mandate that all children be heard. In 2017, child helplines in 146 countries received over 24 million contacts from children in need of care and protection, and these numbers are rising rapidly. To help meet this growing demand, helplines have introduced online chat as another method of communication.
To perform well in this challenging and evolving context, helplines invest a substantial part of their budget into training volunteers extensively on how to provide social support to each child in the form of instrumental (e.g. advice) and emotional (e.g. empathy) support. Like many other non-governmental organizations, child helplines face the challenges of limited resources and volunteer turnover.
Volunteers at child helplines play an important role in providing support for children, so keeping them satisfied during encounters is crucial to continue helping children. The purpose of our study was to understand how children’s perceptions of instrumental and emotional support influence volunteer encounter satisfaction, and whether this effect is moderated by a volunteer’s previous encounter experience and levels of interpersonal and service-offering adaptiveness.
From discussions with child helplines, I learned that volunteer turnover is a common concern. The goal of the research was learning how to retain volunteers by keeping them satisfied in their roles. The academic literature about helplines and counseling has found sources of volunteer satisfaction like personal development, and social support from colleagues. However, I was surprised to find that little academic research has explored how volunteers may derive satisfaction from their interactions with children. Since volunteers spend a majority of their shifts talking with children, it seemed like a good place to investigate.
Summary of findings:
When a volunteer feels dissatisfied after a chat with a child, how does this experience affect the volunteer’s next chat?
What was really interesting in this study, is that we were able to collect data from both the child and the volunteer after each chat that they had. This allowed us to understand how a child’s perceptions of the chat influenced the volunteer’s experience. Let me explain what we found.
When volunteers had a chat that they experienced as less satisfying, they felt more satisfied with the next chat, especially when they were able to provide the next child with information and referrals. In our study, we call this providing “instrumental support” and we asked the children the extent to which they felt they received this type of support from the helpline volunteer (children’s perceptions).
The other type of social support we looked into was emotional support. This is like active listening and just trying to help children feel better without directly trying to solve their problems. Unlike instrumental support, providing emotional support in the next chat did not improve volunteer satisfaction after a less satisfying chat.
We think that volunteers might provide instrumental support to feel better. When you’re feeling down, you can feel better by assisting someone because it feels good to help.
We also asked volunteers to rate their own “interpersonal adaptiveness.” It indicates how easy it is for volunteers to adjust how they communicate with each child. For instance, they might change their vocabulary to match a child’s or adjust their personality based on what they think the child needs. We found that those volunteers who feel they are good in interpersonal adaptiveness, were more satisfied when providing instrumental support. Another thing that volunteers do is adapt the support they provide to each child. For some volunteers, it is easier to customize the information or referrals to specifically fit each child’s situation. This is referred to as “service-offering adaptiveness” in our paper. We thought that this would mean some volunteers are better able to detect cues from children. And in doing so, their satisfaction would be more dependent on the cues they picked up from each child. However, we found the opposite. Our results showed that satisfaction for volunteers with higher “service-offering adaptiveness” was actually less affected by providing instrumental support.
Based on our findings, what can helplines do to help volunteers remain satisfied during their encounters with children?
Finding: Volunteers are more satisfied when children believe they received lots of instrumental support.
Suggested Action: Volunteers should have easy access to the helpline’s resources in order to provide the best information, advice, and referrals to children.
Finding: It is important to be aware that a volunteer’s experience with one encounter influences the next encounter.
Suggested Action: There should be sufficient support for volunteers after a less satisfying encounter. We recommend a feedback tool that would help volunteers to “cool off” after one of these chats or even allow a colleague or manager to help volunteers with the next chat.
Finding: Since volunteer satisfaction increases when children are happy with the support provided, it is important that volunteers are able to detect children’s perceptions.
Suggested Action: To help volunteers understand children’s perceptions throughout a chat, we propose that a monitoring system would be helpful. Such a system could highlight keywords in the chat that would signal whether the volunteer should provide more instrumental support and/or emotional support.
Further reading and sourcing: Siegel, J. and van Dolen, W. (2020), “Child helplines: exploring determinants and boundary conditions of volunteer encounter satisfaction”, Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSM-05-2019-0200
Call for collaboration:
The project I am currently working on investigates how helpline counselors manage multiple live chats / SMS conversations simultaneously and how doing so can affect their wellbeing. My goal is to identify ways for enhancing counselor wellbeing by determining how and when it is best to handle more than one interaction simultaneously in order to prevent either feeling overloaded or bored.
I am looking for a helpline with a focus on serving youth and children that would be willing to help me collect data from volunteers and counselors about their experiences with each interaction. I would also like to talk with helpline managers and counselors about their experiences, concerns, and ideas to find out how else we can collaborate. In addition to an academic article as output of this research, I would write a management report for the helpline which discusses the findings and recommendations for helpline managers.
If you are interested in collaborating, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Returning to school and beginning a new academic year can cause feelings of anxiety and uncertainty in any circumstances, but this year it is extra stressful on students, parents, and educators alike due to COVID-19.
Each year, Mental Health America releases a back to school toolkit aimed at helping people start the new school year right with healthy habits and an awareness of stress and mental health. This year the kit contains materials aimed specifically at coping with the unusual circumstances of beginning school in the midst of a pandemic, with many schools opting for virtual or distance learning, at least for the first semester.
The 2020 Mental Health America Back to School Toolkit is available now on the Mental Health America website.
We are excited to welcome Mental Health America of Virginia (MHAV) to the iCarol family of customers. The oldest mental health advocacy organization in Virginia, MHAV works closely with service providers and peers to complement an individual’s recovery from trauma, mental illness, or addiction. MHAV provides a variety of programs to the community, including a Warm Line telephone service for anyone in Virginia who needs a listening ear or wants resource information.
MHAV chose iCarol to help them improve service delivery and administrative workflows within their warm line program. Using iCarol, they can now consolidate their documents, files, and referrals to a single system, allowing their warm line staff and volunteers easier and more efficient access to the information they need to serve consumers of the program. They plan to enhance their team cohesion as a result of having all their communications being carried out within iCarol rather than using a number of disparate external programs. The categorization and searching capabilities within the built-in resource/referral database will enable warm line staff and volunteers to quickly find the best resources for callers.
iCarol is also helping MHAV meet unprecedented demands placed on their agency by COVID-19, when mental health and wellbeing is a paramount concern to everyone. The global pandemic has required them to be able to staff up as needed to meet growing demand for emotional support, and with iCarol they’ll be able to more quickly onboard new volunteers.
Of their partnership with iCarol, MHAV staff and leadership shared:
“The warm line team loves using the iCarol platform to do their work. They rave about how user friendly it is to complete Contact Forms, view shift schedules, communicate with each other using the internal chat feature and the ease of engaging in text message conversations with people who prefer texting support. As the warm line manager, I love using the platform for the same reasons including the ease of running reports in real-time, viewing and providing feedback to the team, making schedule changes and being able to get support from the iCarol team quickly. The service has enabled us to better serve Virginians with the support they need during these extremely difficult times.”
— Cheryl DeHaven, MHAV Warm Line Manager
“I enjoyed working with the iCarol team throughout the implementation process – very professional, timely, and accommodating.”
—Bruce N. Cruser MSW, Executive Director
To learn more about Mental Health America of Virginia, visit www.mhav.org.
Do you have sales experiences, experience working in or with a not-for-profit, or Admin Experience with iCarol Software? If you said yes to two or more of these, you could be the person we need!
iCarol is currently seeking candidates to fill the position of Solutions Expert, which is a sales representative role. Below is our full job listing. Interested parties can apply using the link at the bottom of this listing!
Solutions Expert/Sales Representative
The Solutions Expert is a sales representative that is part of the Business Development Team and reports to the Director of Business Development. As a Solutions Expert, you will join the Sales Team with a primary focus on new prospects to increase new sales and help with the overall growth of the company, and additional sales to current clients to ensure stability for the future of the company.
As a Solutions Expert you will work remotely within Canada or the United States. Depending on location, an office may be available at one of our many offices, if the successful candidate prefers to work within an office setting.
What we are looking for:
- Experience as a sales representative
- Some technical aptitude
- High character, be trustworthy, authentic, and do what you say you will do
- A desire to learn with the ability to be trained, take responsibility for your actions, and are able to be coached to improve
- Ability to work well autonomously, and be authentic in their abilities and demeanor
- Self-starter and highly motivated for success
What would make you stand out:
- Experience in information technology or software sales
- Experience working in a not-for-profit setting or demonstrated understanding of not-for-profit structure and needs
- Experience working with the iCarol solution, preferably as an iCarol Administrator
What we can offer:
- 3 weeks’ vacation and 5 personal days
- Comprehensive Medical, Dental and Vision coverage from your first day of employment
- Employee stock ownership and 401K matching programs
- Lifestyle rewards
- Flexible work options
CharityLogic, a division of Harris Computer, is the makers of iCarol software. iCarol is the first and only commercially available, subscription based, helpline software management system that automates all the processes associated with managing contacts and providing iCarol Messaging (live chat and texting/SMS). While iCarol was originally built specifically for non-profit helplines, our solution serves not-for-profit agencies and government organizations of many different scopes and types who serve people in need not just over the phone, but in-person, on the web, and through live chat or texting conversations.
The Coronavirus global pandemic has introduced all sorts of new challenges to not-for-profit organizations — maintaining services while social distancing and obeying stay-at-home orders, keeping staff and clients safe, shifting to remote work, engaging clients online — to name a few. And while seamless service delivery is of the utmost importance, those services often can’t exist without donors, stakeholders and funders, and we’ve still yet to see the long-term impacts the economic downturns and depression may have on non-profit funding.
A recent blog shared to Candid Learning, an online source for information about philanthropy and fundraising, shares some information and steps toward better engaging and accessing funding sources during the pandemic, and tips on realigning services with the missions and priorities of those funders. Read more on the Candid Learning blog, authored by Elizabeth (Liz) Ngonzi.
Check out these related resources:
How to Get Funding
for New Technology
Why Advocacy and
How the Heck Do You Do It?
Building a United Crisis Line Team
in Times of Diverse Need
How to Calculate
Social Return on Investment
We’re very excited to announce that iCarol is adding some brand new, big features to our software on August 19!
ReferralQ and Capacity Tracking enables you to document and track your partner Community-Based Organization’s (CBO) capacity to accept referrals, and update a help-seeker’s status as they work with your partner so you can obtain valuable outcome information. You’ll be able to:
Assign a help seeker to one or more wait lists/referral queues for services to meet their needs
Update a person’s wait list or queue status
Track how long someone has been waiting for services
Prioritize which help-seekers need attention first, determined by your own internal business practices
And much more!
Learn More about ReferralQ
If you subscribe to ReferralQ, you’ll have the option to add on a Provider Portal. TThe Provider Portal complements ReferralQ by inviting your CBO partners secure, direct access to view and update authorized ReferralQ information. With the Provider Portal your CBO partners can input their program’s capacity to take referrals, obtain Contact Record or Intake information about the help-seekers referred to them, and update the status of a referred help-seeker as they work with the CBO. They can:
Obtain and review the referrals you made to them from wait lists
Input live updates on their program’s capacity
Update the statuses of referred help seekers
Learn More about Provider Portals
The wire frame below illustrates an example workflow for organizations that may wish to use ReferralQ and the Provider Portal.
These features are coming to iCarol in Q4 of 2020, but now is a great time to ask your questions and talk to us about using these features at your organization!
Schedule A Meeting Email Us
July is recognized as Black, Indigenous People, and People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Month. According to Mental Health America, this recognition began in 2008 as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, and has since been observed each July and was created to bring awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face regarding mental illness in the United States. Its namesake, Bebe Moore Campbell, was an American author, journalist, teacher, and mental health advocate who worked to shed light on the mental health needs of the Black community and other underrepresented communities.
BIPOC Mental Health month aims to draw attention to several key facts:
- Trauma can affect the way we think, act, and feel. The impact of trauma on BIPOC has spanned generations due to centuries of systematic oppression.
- BIPOC are often faced with years — even generations — of trauma, which translates to socioeconomic disparities and, in turn, is linked to mental health concerns today.
- Systemic oppression is directly tied to the mental health of BIPOC. Historical and contemporary injustices continue to perpetuate trauma through generations and into today.
In recognizing and promoting BIPOC Mental Health Month, Mental Health American aims to create an opportunity where people can listen and learn from each other about why it’s important to talk about racism and mental health and how it’s affected them.
To learn more, and download the full BIPOC Mental Health Month Toolkit, visit https://www.mhanational.org/BIPOC-mental-health-month.
The latest release to the iCarol web application includes a number of useful enhancements to Contact Forms!
One of the text-entry field types available on iCarol Contact Forms, used to document information about client interactions, is the Date field.
As part of the Contact Form editing tools, iCarol Admins and others with Contact Form Version editing permissions can now opt to have a calculated duration appear on the Contact Record, measured in their choice of Days, Weeks, Months, or Years, alongside the date that was entered.
While the most common use of the Date field is to record a person’s date of birth, there are a number of uses for this field, for example one could use it to note the date of a particular event related to the interaction or person’s need. Therefore, the calculated duration could refer to anything that may be of use to an organization—A person’s age in years, months spent without stable housing, weeks since a job loss, or days since someone was victimized in a crime, etc.
Calculated Duration allows Contact Specialists to quickly note the length of time passing since the entered date, which could influence the way they respond to the situation and provide helpful information that can be useful when providing support, referrals, safety planning, and more.
Area Median Income
iCarol Admins and others with Contact Form Version editing permissions can now edit their Contact Forms to include a table noting household sizes, and the corresponding local Area Median Income (AMI) amount for each household size. Once the local AMI table information is entered, related text entry fields can be added to the Contact Form. When documenting a client interaction, the specialist can enter the individual’s household size and annual income, which will result in a AMI% being calculated and shown on the form. This information is useful when determining an individual or family’s eligibility to participate in certain programs or receive assistance.
Contact Form History of Changes
Each time a change is made to a Contact Record, iCarol will automatically record who made the change, when this change was made, and information about what the change entailed. The History of Changes will be visible on the finished Contact Record, providing an audit trail for those who want to closely track these changes.
iCarol Customers can obtain setup and other instructions and information on these enhancements within the iCarol Help Center.
If you are not yet using iCarol but would like to learn more about these and other enhancements, please contact us.
In May, our Support Team began offering monthly training webinars. These training sessions will be consistently held on the third Wednesday of each month at 2pm EDT.
Our topic for July 15, 2020 at 2pm EDT is Advanced Reporting: Statistics – Analysis Area.
The goal of this training is to help iCarol users:
- Understand what data is included in each Chart Type in Analysis area
- Learn how to use the Filters and Tools available in the Analysis area, including:
- Call (Contact) Content Filters
- Standard Filters
- Total Distinct Calls
- Click here to see Contact Records that match these filters
- Saved Chart Type
- Drilling into charts
- Exporting chart data to csv files
- Consider different use cases for the various Chart Types, Filters, and Tools available
The Monthly Support Trainings are available exclusively to iCarol customers. To sign up, please sign into your iCarol system and navigate to the iCarol Help Center, where the registration link is provided in the Announcements area.