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Celebrating Information and Referral Day

Beginning in 2011, when the United States Senate first recognized Information and Referral Services Day, November 16th was designated to raise public awareness and recognize the critical importance of the I&R field.

So what is I&R? Information and Referral is the art, science and practice of bringing people and services together and is an integral component of the health and human services sector. People in search of critical services such as shelter, financial assistance, food, jobs, or mental health and substance abuse support often do not know where to begin to get help, or they get overwhelmed trying to find what they need. I&R services recognize that when people in need are more easily connected to the services that will help them, thanks to knowledgeable I&R professionals, it reduces frustration and ensures that people reach the proper services quickly and efficiently.

The Coronavirus pandemic has shone a light on the various first responders that step up and care for us when times are tough, and I&R professionals have certainly been one such group that deserves our praise and thanks. Every day thousands of people find the help they need quickly, conveniently and free of charge because of I&R services. Since the earliest days of COVID-19 in North America, I&R services have answered calls for local health authorities or served as their state, region, or provincial hotline for assistance with COVID-19, from questions about symptoms to testing locations to how to navigate unemployment and obtaining financial or food assistance.

We at iCarol are honored to have so many Information and Referral services all across the world use our software to help provide these services to people who reach them via phone, chat, text, or through intake and screening forms or resource searches on their websites.

Happy I & R Day, everyone, and kudos on the awesome work you do connecting people with the services they need, and addressing the social determinants of health in your communities!

Learn more about these topics:

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Data Across Sectors for Health (DASH) Announces Learning and Action in Policy and Partnerships (LAPP) Funding Program

healthcare data partnership

With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), Data Across Sectors for Health (DASH) in partnership with the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS), is launching the Learning and Action in Policy and Partnerships (LAPP) program. LAPP will provide award opportunities to community organizations who are partnered with their state government to advance community-led programs focused on data-sharing efforts to improve health, equity and well-being.

Five awardees will receive $100,000 each to:

    (a) engage partners to advance existing data-sharing or data-integration efforts;
    (b) systematically share data across sectors (e.g., social services, public health, and health care); and
    (c) build relationships among community and state partners to inform decision-making and strengthen systems that support community goals for improved health, well-being and equity.

In the second year of the LAPP Program, additional funding and support may become available, based on successful completion of program objectives and deliverables.

Planning to apply? We can help!

If you plan to expand your data-integration or sharing efforts and are considering this award as a way to fund that project, please contact us. iCarol offers a number of ways to harness your data, with other iCarol users and with partners and with those who use different solutions. Let’s get together to discuss your potential project to see which of our many data sharing solutions might work for you in an effort to obtain this funding!

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Click here for more information about the LAPP program
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Canadian 211 Service Available Nationwide Following Expanded Government Funding

The Government of Canada recently approved funding that will expand 211 services to the entire country.

With this investment, residents of Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador will now be able to call 211 and reach trained specialists that can direct them to critical government and community-based health and social services in their community. 211 has been available in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and most of Quebec.

The Canadian 211 service offers listening support, information and referral assistance on a variety of topics including mental health and addiction, employment, food insecurity, financial instability, disaster response, services for older adults and those with disabilities, and a number of other topics. With specialists able to listen, assess needs and eligibility, and then direct consumers to all appropriate services to meet those needs during a single interaction, 211 serves as a front door or “one stop shop” for those seeking services and mitigates the stress on individuals and families facing a crisis.

The funding expansion is related to the country’s COVID-19 response. During the first wave of Coronavirus infections in the country, 211 centres across Canada saw a dramatic increase in the number of people reaching out for assistance. Call volume increased by 31% and website visits increased by 45% in the March to August timeframe.

iCarol is proud to partner with 211 Canada by providing software solutions that 211 centres use to document interactions with help seekers, curate information about community services and share those resources with consumers, collaborate with community-based organizations, manage their staff and schedules, and more. iCarol applauds the Government of Canada for investing in these services that Canadians need now more than ever before.

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iCarol virtually exhibiting at first ever AIRS E-conference

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.

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iCarol’s Virtual User Group Session is Just Two Weeks Away!

It’s important to us that our customers still have the opportunity to connect with us, receive training, and have the option to participate in a user group session, even if this year we can’t hold the event in person.

Our first initiative to provide that continuity — the user group portion of our conference will become a virtual user group session — is now just two weeks away! The session will occur on Thursday, June 11 at 2pm Eastern time.

This virtual user group session is your chance to hear about the latest improvements and enhancements to iCarol, learn what we have planned for implementation in the coming months, and discuss and provide feedback to the iCarol Product Management team on what features you’d like to see implemented in the future. All customers or those exploring iCarol for potential use at their organization are welcome to attend.

Virtual User Group Exclusive: Attendees of this session will be the first to hear about a major feature release coming in Q4 of 2020! You won’t want to miss it!

During this session we will:*

  • Review released features and enhancements from the past year
  • Share features and enhancements in progress and coming soon
  • Discuss iCarol strategy and priorities
  • Invite your industry expertise and votes on top ideas
  • Share a sneak peek at an all new, major feature release coming in Q4 of 2020!

Learn More and Register

*We reserve the right to make adjustments to our schedule and topics prior to the event date.

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June iCarol Support Training: Managing Automated Verification Requests and Responses

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 June 17, 2020 at 2pm EDT is Managing Automated Verification Requests and Responses.The goal of this training session is to teach iCarol users how to manage their Automated Verification Requests and Responses, and configure what fields are visible to the verifier. This training is for iCarol customers who are subscribed to the Automated Verification feature, or those who are interested in learning more about subscribing to that feature.

Not sure what the Automated Verification feature does? Click here to learn more.

During this training participants will:

  • Review the Field Visibility Settings for Verifiers
  • Learn how to style your data entry for optimal outcomes
  • Understand the various request settings
  • Learn about response filters

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.

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Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Announces COVID-19 grants

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has announced a program providing $15 million in total support to stimulate collaborations between academic researchers and the public and not-for-profit sectors, and industry to address pandemic-related research and technical challenges. Support for up to $50,000 for one-year projects is being made available immediately and NSERC will process these applications in an accelerated fashion.

Who is it for?

University researchers collaborating with private-sector, public-sector or not-for-profit organizations.

How much and for how long?

Up to $50,000 for up to 1 year.

The objectives of the NSERC Alliance COVID-19 grants are to:

  • Accelerate the flow and exchange of research results and research expertise in the natural sciences and engineering sectors between academic researchers and public, not for profit and industry partners by supporting these organizations as they face challenges in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Support research and analysis activities that address partner organization questions or issues in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to applications in the short term.

Deadline:

Applications will be accepted at any time until June 1, 2020.

Learn More and Apply

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Financial assistance for individuals, non-profits and small businesses affected by COVID-19

As the COVID-19 public health crisis remains, individuals and businesses continue to see a financial impact due to social distancing and stay-at-home orders implemented in the interest of public safety. A number of resources have been made available, including reallocation or reopening of funding processes for initiatives previously depleted of first round funding. Click the links below for more information about these initiatives in both Canada and the United States.

Government resources/assistance to non-profits affected by COVID-19

Businesses of all types have been deeply affected by the COVID-19 crisis, including not-for-profit organizations. Both the Canadian and US Federal Governments have made assistance programs available to small businesses, particularly regarding maintaining of payroll in spite of lost income. The following resources may be helpful to your non-profit organization if you need to explore such programs for your agency:


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Caring for our customers and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic

image of coronavirus

We have been closely watching the developments around the novel Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic. In these and other difficult times, our primary focus always turns to our customers and the people and communities they serve, as well as the health and well-being of our employees.

Many of our customers are playing a direct and active role in the response to COVID-19 by providing emotional support, reassurance, and reliable information and referral, and working directly with their state/provincial and local governments to collect data and rapidly disseminate new information of service to the public.

We want to do all we can to support them in their efforts, and so we have taken the following steps:

  • Offer 30 days of free Contact Record or Resource Database sharing tools in iCarol, to help our customers with their collaborations, continuity of operations, or coordinated data collection and reporting.
  • Apply an ad hoc Taxonomy update to iCarol that includes new terms related to COVID-19.
  • Provide prompt response to all customer requests related to COVID-19, such as assistance with editing Contact Forms, adding new tools, or making system settings changes.
  • Monitor system performance and volume, and add additional resources within our Microsoft Azure infrastructure to scale and increase capacity as necessary.
  • Listen and engage with key industry organizations to be sure we are prepared for and responsive to our customers’ needs as the situation continues to evolve.

We understand that many of our customers are transitioning their volunteers and staff to a remote work model to maintain continuity of operations while reducing human presence within the contact center. For many, this model is unfamiliar and one sometimes met with apprehension. Being a web-based solution, iCarol provides many tools and features that can make this transition easier. The iCarol functionality needed to carry out their work can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, while managers can still exercise supervision and ultimate control over volunteer/staff permissions and system access. On our blog, we will share more detailed tips and guidance on how our customers can use iCarol remotely, which will help keep their people and communities safer.

Of course, the safety of members of the iCarol family, customers and employees alike, is at the forefront of our minds. iCarol has activated our own business continuity plan, which specifically calls out provisions in the case of a pandemic. Most of the iCarol team already works remotely, and nearly all of our interaction with customers is through email, live chat, online meetings, or phone calls, which limits the risk of exposing ourselves or our customers to the spread of the virus. Our small number of team members who usually work in an office setting have been working from home and will continue to do so until it is safe to return to the office. There has also been significant cross-training between the iCarol and CityView technology/development teams which expands the amount of human resources available to quickly respond to technology or infrastructure needs.

Our parent company, Harris Computer Systems, has provided excellent leadership throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, and feels that we must all do our part as responsible citizens to enhance the safety of our employees and the communities in which we live and work. Any in-person internal meetings are being reconsidered and either postponed or converted to virtual events, and all business travel is being evaluated and cancelled or postponed as needed. Harris Computer encourages all its employees to follow the guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

Our customers always display an unwavering commitment to their communities, and they are courageously upholding these values even in the midst of these unprecedented events. We are inspired by their actions, and honored to serve them however we can. Should you have any questions on how iCarol can assist or support your organization in response to COVID-19, please contact us.

The following iCarol resources may be helpful to you as you research, plan, and act during an emergency:

ata Exporting, Sharing, and Integrations Options in iCarol

Data Exporting, Sharing, and Integrations Options in iCarol
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iCarol eBook Do More Together A Guide to Collaborations

Do More Together: A Guide to Collaborations
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Using iCarol During a Disaster or Emergency

Using iCarol During a Disaster or Emergency
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