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“It’s a Wonderful Life” and Imagining a World Without Helplines

This blog was originally published in December 2020. As this pandemic rages on, the message remains relevant, and so we’re sharing it with you again to mark the 2021 holiday season.

Content warning: This post discusses sensitive topics such as suicide and abuse.

In a year as strange and relentless as 2020, I needed a sense of normalcy more than ever this holiday season, and that came in the form of my annual viewing of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In years’ past, the film’s theme of suicide prevention struck me most. But like a lot of things, the experience of 2020 placed a new filter over the movie for me, and I started noticing elements that, while always there, hadn’t been as noticeable to me before.

The crises of 2020 were relentless. And when the bad news just keeps coming and it feels there’s no end in sight, no clear solution or relief, it can be easy to fall into total despair. George Bailey experiences this very thing in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” George passed on his own dreams so the dreams of others could be realized and those he loved could be happy, and for awhile he appears okay with that. Then a series of crises compound, and old trauma and resentments quickly rise to the surface. George, completely devoid of hope and solutions, is now staring into the icy churning waters of a river flowing beneath him. For all his good deeds and sacrifices, look at how bad things are. What was it all for? He contemplates how the world might be better off if he wasn’t here, or if he never existed at all.

George’s scenario got me thinking about the exhaustive work so many people have been doing all throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, only to have things stay the same, or get worse, day in and day out, with no relief in sight. When there’s no clear impact or positive change to motivate you, to reassure you that your sacrifices and work matters, how do you keep going? How do you resist despair and hopelessness?

I think the answer is similar to what we see in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” George can’t see his positive impact until he’s shown a world without him in it. Perhaps we need to briefly imagine what the world would look like without those forces of good working hard to help others.

What would our world look like now if helplines, contact centers, and other community services didn’t exist?

Contact centers and Information and Referral services like 2-1-1 commonly act as their community’s primary source of information about COVID-19, providing information on everything from common symptoms to look for and where to go to get tested. In many cases 2-1-1 became the official state/provincial source of COVID-19 information. Without that centralized information delivery service, health departments, emergency rooms, and medical offices are overwhelmed with people seeking information. Phone lines jam and human resources are syphoned from direct care treating those who are ill. Fewer people know where to get tested. More people get sick, and more lives are lost as a result.

The economic fallout from the pandemic will be with us for some time. Some say the financial recovery may take longer than public health recovery. Thankfully, people looking for financial assistance for their very survival—help with utilities or food—had places to reach. Places where a compassionate and knowledgeable specialist could, in a single interaction, provide ideas and resources that may help with several needs. Without those contact centers, those in need are left feeling lost and overwhelmed. Already worn down by their situation, they must now spend time and effort navigating the network of community services on their own. They don’t know how the systems work. They are frustrated and even more overwhelmed. It takes longer to access assistance. They miss several meals. They only find out about a fraction of the services for which they were eligible.

Quarantines and stay-at-home orders kept people at home more, and for many the people they live with are a source of comfort. For others, it’s a source of conflict or even danger. Suddenly, vulnerable individuals suffering abuse at the hands of a parent or partner, or LGBTQIA youth living with unsupportive family members, were cut off from their daily escapes and support systems. Without services specializing in providing safety and emotional support, they become more isolated. Tensions in the household rise. Abused partners and Queer youth have no professional confidential counseling to access quietly and privately through chats or text messages. There’s no emergency shelter to escape to.

Viruses and physical health have taken center stage this year, but the mental health toll is undeniable. We’ve been going through a collective, worldwide trauma. Everything familiar was disrupted and the entire concept of “normal” disappeared overnight. Many people are experiencing emotions they aren’t sure what to do with, and they aren’t ready to talk to their friends or loved ones. Others lack those connections and are processing things all on their own. Imagine a world without an outlet to help one cope with those feelings. No warmlines or impartial empathetic listeners, no crisis or suicide prevention services. The emotional suffering deepens and spreads, and we lose even more people to a different type of pandemic—suicide—that was present long before COVID-19.

So yes, 2020 was the worst, filled with more crises happening all at once than many of us could have imagined. And in a seemingly never-ending string of challenges, it may feel at times like your contributions, all your exhaustive efforts, aren’t making a dent. If reassurance and evidence of your impact seems elusive, think back to George Bailey’s tour of seedy Pottersville, the bad place version of Bedford Falls. Close your eyes and take a stroll through that scary, imaginary world without organizations like yours, and see that things could actually be much worse. It’s because of the good work of those who care, like you, that it isn’t.

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Happy New Year from iCarol

It’s hard to believe that soon we’ll be closing out yet another year. The passage of time has felt especially fast lately. The year prior, everything was exceptionally strange and most agree 2020 far overstayed its welcome. By comparison, the months each felt only a few days long throughout 2021.

For our customers, 2021 was another year where you were asked to do more for your communities than ever before, stretching your resources as much as possible to meet emergent and rapidly evolving needs. Many of our customer organizations continued to play a critical roll in COVID-19 response, for example contracting with local health authorities to take calls for COVID-19 hotlines and in many cases assisting with vaccine rollout efforts. As a result, you have improved the health of your communities and helped save lives. We couldn’t be more proud or honored to be associated with the amazing work you do.

The global pandemic advanced the need for communities to solve problems by coordinating efforts between agencies to reduce duplication of work and ease participation for consumers of services, all while collecting and sharing important data to prove impact that drives creation of new services and the funding to make it happen. As a result, we’ve received more requests than ever before from customers who need to participate in health information exchanges, securely pass intake information to a partner, and close the loop on outcomes and results of the services received. We’re delighted that our customers are making use of iCarol’s flexibility to help you leverage your data and say “yes” to these projects, and it has motivated us to continue to stay ahead of the innovation happening in these areas. Meeting your needs with technology, and giving you options in how you can engage with others to help your communities, will always be something that drives us here at iCarol.

Looking ahead, we know that the impacts of COVID will be with us for a long time to come, and so we’re prepared to continue brainstorming solutions with you as needs evolve. We expect the mental health and economic impacts to reverberate for years to come, which means your core services providing listening and empathy, connection to helpful services, and crisis intervention will be more important than ever. It’s appropriate timing that the U.S. will launch three digit dialing for suicide prevention and mental/behavioral health crises in the form of 9-8-8, coming in July of 2022. We’ve spoken to many organizations who will be participating 988 centers asking us how iCarol can assist. We’re committed to helping this new network meet its goals of creating better, more comprehensive mental and behavioral health systems and look forward to those continuing conversations, your ideas, and finally seeing 9-8-8 become a reality in July.

In envisioning new and better ways for the systems of care to work, we understand that your work is growing less transactional and more about seeing someone through a situation long term, building a relationship and being a part of their network of support. To that end, you may recall we asked you some questions a few months back about your case management needs and how well they are being served by us. We’re excited to say that thanks to your feedback, we’ve discovered several areas where we can improve and add tools to iCarol that will help you do this work better. To learn a bit more about this, I hope you’ll join our upcoming annual “State of iCarol” webinar in January where we’ll share some of what we have in mind for these sorts of developments in 2022. Stay tuned to the blog, and watch your iCarol Dashboard and email inbox for an invite. If you don’t already get our emails, I hope you’ll sign up here so we can stay in touch with you.

I hope that each of you, and your entire teams, can take time to be with the people and do the things that are most meaningful and rejuvenating for you. We see you, your dedication to your work of helping others and improving the world around you, and the clear positive impact you have. We look forward to another year serving you and wish you a happy holiday season and a bright New Year.

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Career Opportunities at iCarol

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Are you looking to start a new career opportunity in 2022? We have several openings on our team at the moment, and are currently accepting applications! iCarol is looking to add team members to our Business Development Team in the role of Inside Sales Professional, and our Client Support and Implementation Team in the role of Client Support Implementation Specialist (CSIS).

The Inside Sales Professional is responsible for searching for new leads and opportunities to add more organizations to the iCarol family. This sales team member helps connect prospective customers with the right iCarol solutions for their agency and works with them to close the sale. Learn more about this open position.

The Client Support and Implementation Specialist 1 (CSIS1) is responsible for implementing new name and back to base sales, answering complex questions, contributing to a knowledge base, and advocating for the needs of the client. The CSIS is accountable for ensuring continuity of computer system services by providing the technical expertise, the assistance and project coordination necessary to maintain computer software products, and resolve technical problems. Learn more about this open position.

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December Support Training: Referral Q Capacity Tracking and Provider Portal

The iCarol Support Team holds monthly trainings on topics that our customers want more information about. These trainings are offered on the third Wednesday of every month at 2pm Eastern.

Our topic for the December webinar is ReferralQ & Capacity Tracking and Provider Portal features.

ReferralQ and Capacity Tracking enables you to document and track referrals to a particular service that you work closely with, including information such as the service’s capacity to accept referrals. The Provider Portal is a separate product that complements ReferralQ by inviting your partners secure, direct access to view and update authorized ReferralQ information. With the Provider Portal your 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.

We’re excited to share more information about these products with our customers on our next monthly training webinar!

Date: Wednesday, December 15
Time: 2pm Eastern

During this webinar, participants will learn:

  • What is the ReferralQ & Capacity Tracking feature?
  • What is the Provider Portal feature?
  • How can these features be used together?
  • What are some use cases for the features?

We welcome and encourage our customers to attend! You can find the registration link on the Admin Dashboard or in our Help Center announcements.

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This is a game changer – iCarol’s Resource Database API is now fully bi-directional

iCarol bidirectional resource api

Did you know that iCarol’s Resource Database API is now fully bi-directional?

What does this mean? iCarol Resource database records can now be created and/or updated using the API.

iCarol was a pioneer among the I&R and Contact Center Software vendors with our Resource Database API, which was first released in 2013.

We’ve done it again with these new enhancements that can now be done outside of iCarol, directly into to your iCarol Resource database using the Resource Database API:

  • Update, create, or delete resource records from external software systems
      Save time, increase efficiency, get new records from your partners quicker than ever—when time is of the essence

  • Decide to have new records and updates happen automatically, or as part of an automated verification process
      Maintain necessary control of how you want the partnerships to work, while having flexibility to change quickly as needed

  • And we’ve continued with the ability we’ve always had where you can provide different partners different key access with different permissions

Here are just some possibilities that have been discussed with this new enhancement:

  • Open the door to partnership ideas and revenue streams that were not possible before

  • Feed data to warehouses and/or reporting tools and accept changes to the records in iCarol from those external sources

  • Partner with other referral partners who may be on other information and referral software, in more ways than ever before

  • Allow more options to health and human service partners who need direct access your resource database and need to let you know of new additions and changes themselves

  • Make yourself more marketable to healthcare providers/for healthcare partnerships who may be interested in access to your resource database, and may want easier options to let you know of changes to resources

  • Collaboration, coalition and Community Information Exchange (CIE) efforts can be even more streamlined

An overview of capabilities that have been available for some time with the iCarol Resource API:

iCarol Resource API search details and public comments


And here’s what’s NEW:

iCarol API update method workflow

Now is the perfect time to explore what iCarol’s Bi-direction Resource API can do for your organization and your partners.

Are you a current iCarol user? As we’ve previously shared, our November Support Training is about the API! Join our webinar Wednesday, November 17th at 2:00pm Eastern. Register by signing in to iCarol and opening the iCarol Help Center where the webinar description and registration link is posted as an Announcement.

Get In Touch!

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iCarol Career Opportunity – Director of Business Development and Marketing

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Director of Business Development and Marketing – Remote

We are currently accepting applications for the position of Director of Business Development and Marketing.

The team member in this position is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Sales department, including Marketing and Communications. This position manages all employees of the department and is responsible for the performance management, hiring and training of the employees within that department.

What your impact will be:

  • Gather and analyze market data and industry trends.
  • Develop relevant annual sales strategies that are congruent with market analyses of a competitive sector
  • Build and execute against aggressive growth plans
  • Build strong prospect/customer relationships
  • Generate leads through all necessary channels
  • Build a strong pipeline of qualified prospects
  • Attend sales presentations
  • Achieve sales goals and enable team to achieve targets through efficient management and constant support
  • Prepare reports detailing the status of all accounts
  • Prepare and maintain the monthly sales bookings forecast
  • Work to create a marketing brand
  • Oversee conference attendance and participation to help drive new business and grow the market awareness of the company.
  • Manage/realign territories as needed
  • Understand and monitor the win/loss rates to be able to determine ROI for each activity. Understand the sales cycle within each vertical and design sales strategies that drive organic growth.
  • Handle the financial resources (revenue and spending allocated to the department, cost control, etc.) and provide forecast updates and reporting as required.
  • Make sure customers are satisfied during and after service delivery and process complaints, if any
  • Be an ambassador for the use of iCarol and suggest best practices for its use
  • Some travel is required.
  • Collaboration with other iCarol teams and departments to seek out and share ideas for process improvements to help guide the company’s growth and ensure a quality product for our client base.

What we are looking for:

  • 3 to 5+ years of experience in software or institutional sales management
  • Superior oral and written skills
  • Demonstrated ability to determine and then transform customer needs/requirements into an opportunity for the company
  • Strong business development experience
  • Experience in client prospecting or seeking funding or partnership opportunities
  • High level of problem solving and analytical skills
  • Experience carrying a sales quota and achieving success of this quota Experience building out a high-performance team
  • Ability to work in a team and be hands on with customers in achieving their success
  • Strong critical thinking skills, decisiveness, and willingness to appropriately accept risk
  • Experience in industry, technology needs associated to industry, and in introducing new products is an asset
  • Experience with Zoho CRM and managing a CRM as an administrator.

What will make you standout?

  • iCarol software experience
  • Previous experience selling to charitable or non-profit organizations, securing funding, or building successful partnerships/programs, for a non-profit is preferred.

Learn More and Apply

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iCarol Career Opportunity – Client Support Implementation Specialist (CSIS)

join out team written with colorful letters and lollipops

Client Support Implementation Specialist (CSIS) – Remote

Are you a current or former user of iCarol Software with a belief in and passion for the missions of non-profit helplines and contact centers? Would you enjoy guiding new iCarol users through their onboarding process as they prepare to use iCarol at their not-for-profit helpline? Do you enjoy troubleshooting problems to find solutions, and guiding people to answers that will help them? If you answered “yes” to these questions, you could be the next member of the iCarol Support Team!

We are currently accepting applications for the position of Client Support and Implementation Specialist

The Client Support and Implementation Specialist 1 (CSIS1) is responsible for implementing new name and back to base sales, answering complex questions, contributing to a knowledge base, and advocating for the needs of the client. The CSIS is accountable for ensuring continuity of computer system services by providing the technical expertise, the assistance and project coordination necessary to maintain computer software products, and resolve technical problems.

What your impact will be:

  • Configure new systems and features and train clients how to use iCarol to best meet their organizations’ needs
  • Monitors and answers incoming support chats and tickets, working directly with customers to help solve problems
  • Resolves issues or escalates issues to CSIS2 when more expertise is needed
  • Assists with release management by testing bug fixes and software enhancements, and other upgrade rollout tasks as required
  • Stay abreast on the latest developments in software through self-learning/training
  • Uses discretion to effect timely solution of problems to ensure customer satisfaction, eliminate downtime and prevent cost overruns
  • Maintains client relationships
  • Aids in creating and providing support documentation
  • Identifies solutions for customers related to potential up sales, escalating to the Sales Team when needed
  • Exercises sound professional judgment in analysis of problems to: (1) attempt hardware/software solution by screenshare, or (2) decide proper level of maintenance required to solve problem
  • Other duties as assigned

What we are looking for:

  • Honesty, patience, and motivation are core values of the iCarol team
  • A passionate belief in the mission of help lines and respect for their callers
  • A high degree of responsiveness to client requests and issues
  • Strong proficiency and comfort using computers and the web
  • General to intermediate knowledge of computers, internet browsers (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, etc.) and Microsoft Office products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
  • Project management skills will be a plus
  • Due to the nature of the work our clients do (ie. you will have access to client ePHI), our policies require you to sign a confidentiality agreement and pass a basic criminal background check in addition to annual HIPAA security training.

What will make you standout?

  • At least 2 years of experience working at a help line, preferably both on the phones and in an administrative role
  • At least 2 years of experience as an iCarol Admin
  • Bachelor’s degree preferred

Learn More and Apply

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iCarol Career Opportunity – Inside Sales Professional

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Inside Sales Professional – Remote

Do you have understanding or experience working with not-for-profits?

Are you a self-starter, charismatic, and highly motivated with some prior success in hunting for, identifying, qualifying, and closing high quality business opportunities?

We’re seeking an Inside Sales Professional to join our Business Development team! As an Inside Sales Professional you will be responsible for closing leads, as well as hunting for new opportunities.

What your impact will be:

  • Identify the needs of the customer, demonstrate the benefits of the software, and present the iCarol solution to not-for-profit organizations, growing the customer base with new clients, as well as enhancing relationships with existing customers
  • Hunting and qualifying new business opportunities
  • Qualifying and closing high quality business opportunities
  • Finding the best solution to fit the needs of our customers

What we are looking for:

  • Experience working in a not-for-profit setting or demonstrated understanding of not-for-profit structure and needs
  • Technical aptitude
  • Proven sales experience
  • 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 can be coached to improve
  • Ability to work well autonomously, and be authentic in their abilities and demeanor
  • An inquisitive, self-starter, highly motivated for success

What would make you stand out:

  • Experience working with the iCarol solution
  • Previous direct sales experience, an understanding or experience working with not-for-profits
  • Experience selling SaaS
  • Experience in information technology or software sales

What we 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

Learn More and Apply

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Utah CALL-UP Uses iCarol Public Web Forms to Connect Physicians with Psychiatric Consultation

Even with increased awareness and understanding about mental health and mental illness, mental health care, particularly psychiatric care, can still be difficult to access. This often leaves Primary Care Physicians (PCPs), nurses, and other healthcare workers on the frontlines of mental health care in the United States.

However, in Utah PCPs can access specialized psychiatric consultations through the Consultation Access Link Line to Utah Psychiatry (CALL-UP) Program. This legislative funded program is designed to address the limited number of psychiatric services in Utah and improve access to them, and serves patients at no cost to providers or patients in the state of Utah.

iCarol is proud to play a role in the service delivery of CALL-UP, through CALL-UP’s use of iCarol for psychiatrist on-call shift sign up, CALL-UP program documentation to maintain state funding, and through iCarol’s Public Web Forms.

Here’s how iCarol fits into the service delivery workflow of the CALL-UP program in Utah:

  1. The on-call service for psychiatry consultation is available Monday through Friday from 12:00pm to 4:30 pm. Participating psychiatrists are invited by the CALL-UP program administrators to sign into the iCarol system to sign up for shifts where they will be on-call for consultations.
  2. Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) are instructed to contact the CALL-UP program to request a consultation. If the PCP calls in, CALL-UP staff collect basic demographic, needs, and other important data from the PCP in order to comply with state funding requirements, which is input by the phone specialist into iCarol, using an iCarol Contact Form. Then, they can forward the call to the on-call psychiatrist for the consultation to occur.
  3. PCPs can also request a consultation online, using an iCarol Public Web Form. The form has a built-in screening element that first ensures the requestor is a physician, as this is a requirement for program access. If they are not a physician, a prompt instructs them to please contact their doctor.
  4. If the requestor is a PCP then they continue to use the form to provide the information needed to obtain a consultation, including the demographic and other information required to maintain state funding.
  5. Once the Public Web Form is received by CALL-UP staff, they have the information they need to contact the PCP requesting consultation, and connect them with the on-call psychiatrist. Because the iCarol Web Form is simply a publicly available iCarol Contact Form, they already have the data they need, automatically submitted to iCarol with the form, to meet their reporting requirements.

For more information about Utah’s CALL-UP Program, visit https://uofuhealth.org/call-up.

Want to learn more about Public Web Forms and talk through how they might be used for your program or partnership?

Email Us   Schedule a Meeting

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USA Today: Child care providers grapple with a worker shortage

childcare professional seated at a table playing with children

According to a recently published report in USA Today, the child care industry in the United States has been one of the industries hit hardest by worker shortages. The closing of most day care centers early in the pandemic resulted in over 373,000 employees laid off or furloughed. According to the U.S. Labor Department, the industry has only recovered 70% of its pre-pandemic workforce.

The childcare staff shortage has caused childcare centers to be stretched thin, forced to reduce capacity and often increasing costs for parents and caregivers. Childcare workers bear a heavy workload due to the shortage, and parents unable to find affordable and reliable childcare must often leave the workforce themselves.

Click here to read the full report.

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