After fifty years of serving the sector as the Alliance of Information & Referral Systems (AIRS), the organization has rebranded the organization as Inform USA to better reflect its commitment to its mission and members. The change was announced at its 50th Anniversary Celebration on the evening of July 31 at the organization’s annual conference in Orlando, Florida.
Among the reasons for the name change, Inform USA more closely aligns the organization with its Canadian counterpart and frequent partner and collaborator, InformCanada. The chat bubbles seen in the new logo visually represent the exchange of information its membership provides to the consumers and constituents they serve.
In the announcement, InformUSA explained the balance of the need to preserve the legacy and good works of the organization over the past 50 years, with needed changes around technology, access, and modernization. The organization’s overall mission remains the same, however members are promised greater ease of access to membership benefits, networking, and information via the new and improved website and Member Compass.
The iCarol team is very excited to see our friends at Inform USA take these steps to build a bright future for everyone in the I&R industry. We can’t wait to see what’s next, and offer our sincere congratulations and support!
iCarol is proud to sponsor the upcoming Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) Discovery Conference in Orlando, Florida from July 31 through August 2, 2023.
The conference is extra special this year because it will mark a milestone 50 years of AIRS. This is a huge accomplishment definitely worth celebrating. So much has changed in the field of Information and Referral in the last 50 years! What constitutes information and referral services has greatly expanded, as have the types of needs communities experience and request from service providers. The industry started with virtually no technology usage, with organizations managing resource databases and records mostly on paper. Today these agencies have access to technologies, databases, and other tools available both to curate resource and referral information, as well as connect with consumers and document information about their needs both met and met, service gaps, social determinants of health, and much more! iCarol is delighted to be a solution that these organizations use to carry out their work.
And of course, a recent challenge the I&R industry faced was COVID-19. Not only did information and referral agencies encounter an influx of inquiries from an anxious community desperately seeking reliable information and guidance during a scary time, but these agencies themselves were living it, too — pivoting their services and staff to work remotely while facing higher volumes than ever. Clearly, this industry and AIRS as leader in it has seen and done a lot in 50 years, and deserves a moment to pause and celebrate this incredible achievement. We’re excited to be in Orlando celebrating alongside them.
Attend iCarol’s Customer Conference on Sunday
For us, our time in Orlando will start just before the conference officially kicks off, when iCarol hosts our own Customer Conference on Sunday, July 30. Starting at 9:00am we’ll welcome both current and prospective customers to join us for a day of learning and discussion, as well as a full user group session that will help influence iCarol’s development roadmap in the coming years. For information about our customer conference and to register, please visit this page.
Come see us in the Exhibit Hall!
Once the conference officially kicks off, iCarol will be present at our booth in the exhibit hall. Please stop by to chat with us; we’d love to hear about what’s going on at your organization, what projects you have in the works, and if there’s anything we can assist you with. We’ll have some fun giveaway items to share, along with material that shares information on iCarol and the solutions we provide.
Join our main conference session co-hosted by 211 Maryland!
Finally, we are extremely excited to co-present one of the workshop sessions at the conference on Monday, July 31 at 11:30am. Join iCarol’s Senior Product Manager, Crystal McEachern, and President and CEO of 211 Maryland, Quinton Askew, will share “No One Left Behind: A Case Study of Maryland’s Care Coordination Program.” The workshop will explore how 211 Maryland worked with their Department of Health and iCarol to create a process where those visiting emergency departments for mental or behavioral health reasons could access care coordination through 211 Maryland to better connect them with resource that will address the mental or behavioral health needs as well as their social determinants of health.
We wish everyone heading to Florida safe and easy travels, we we look forward to seeing you at AIRS Discovery!
We wanted to post a friendly reminder that iCarol’s Customer Conference is just 10 days away!
The team is excited to provide existing iCarol customers, as well as those who don’t yet use iCarol but would like to learn more about us and our software, with a day of discussion and training related to iCarol capabilities as well as industry-specific information. We’ll share information on:
- Data and reporting
- Resource management
- Care coordination
- Closed-loop referral
- and iCarol’s future development in a User Group session
This year’s conference will be held at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld on Sunday, July 30. We will be in the Tarpon room located on the second floor of the hotel. Refreshments including coffee, iced tea, water, and donuts will be served at the start of our day. While any travel and lodging costs will be your responsibility, there is no cost to attend this event. We do not plan to record any portion of the customer conference, however we will hold a virtual user group session later this year.
If you haven’t yet registered but would like to attend, there is still time to do so. Please visit our official conference page to learn more, and register.
Happy Pride Month!
At iCarol we live by the Harris Computer Systems core values, including the first and most important value: Respect of the Individual.
Of course that means creating a safe space where everyone is encouraged to live as their authentic selves and express who they are and how they wish to be addressed. That feeling extends to all of our customer organizations and end users of the iCarol software.
In the iCarol Help Center Community, and in responses to our latest customer survey, we received several requests for the ability for volunteers and staff users to note their pronouns within the iCarol system.
We’re excited to announce that sharing one’s pronouns in their volunteer/staff profile is a new enhancement that will be included in our latest release to iCarol. This release is expected to go into affect today, Tuesday, June 14.
Enabling and using pronouns in iCarol is easy. If a volunteer or staff member would like to share their pronouns, they should first edit their profile, then choose their pronouns from the dropdown menu, and click the ‘Save’ button.
Once enabled, a user’s pronouns will appear alongside their name throughout the different areas of iCarol where knowing a person’s pronouns will help you communicate and address them as they wish to be addressed, such as the main Contacts page.
And when viewing shifts.
Learning and then using a person’s correct pronouns creates a healthy and safe workplace environment, conveys respect, and affirms one’s identity. We hope this enhancement will help you and your team support one another and foster inclusion within your organization! If you have any questions, please open a ticket with our Support Team using the iCarol Help Center!
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.
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.
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:
And here’s what’s NEW:
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.
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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.
When the Coronavirus pandemic forced daycares and schools to close, many Canadians, especially women, had to reduce their work hours or leave their jobs entirely. According to Statistics Canada, more than 48% of Canadian parents struggle to find affordable childcare, leading to 27% delaying their return to work and 41% adjusting their work schedules to accommodate caregiving.
An Angus Reid poll found that more than 70% of Canadians favour a national childcare program. The upcoming election will give Canadians their say on which plan they prefer, with the Liberal Party advocating for government subsidization that results in C$10/day childcare costs for families. The Conservatives prefer offering up to C$6,000 per year to parents to help them pay for childcare costs.Click here to read the full article.
Around the nation there are conversations happening about public safety as it pertains to emergency response where it involves situations of mental health crisis. Who are the appropriate entities to respond to 911 calls for someone in a mental health crisis?
Legislation has been introduced in New York State, Daniel’s Law, that would establish both state and regional mental health response councils which would permit mental health professionals to respond to mental health and substance abuse emergencies.
This legislation is modeled after a program in Eugene, Oregon, CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets), developed in 1989, that takes an innovative, community-based public safety approach to provide mental health first response for crises involving mental illness, homelessness, and addiction.
We believe 211s and Crisis Lines are an integral part of this conversation.
We are planning to host a conversation on this topic and would like to hear from you regarding what actions your organizations are currently taking and what kind of additional support iCarol could provide to assist you in responding to 911 calls in these situations.
email us if you are interested in sharing your ideas or plans related to this topic, or if you are simply interested in participating in these conversations.