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Happy New Year from iCarol

happy new year 2020 iCarol year in review

As another year closes and a new one begins, we naturally reflect on the accomplishments, celebrations, and important moments of 2019 while anticipating all that lies ahead. Personally, I consider the past year to be one full of progress, both in the industries we serve and here at iCarol.

All year we engage with our customers at industry conferences, forums, and in other capacities so we can be intimately aware of the topics currently affecting them and others on the horizon. This helps us to respond in kind to meet these needs with new, innovative solutions from iCarol. This year was no exception – we have seen movement across all of the industries we serve that open opportunities for our customers that we are actively exploring ways to support using iCarol software.

In the world of Information and Referral, the topics of Social Determinants of Health, Closed-loop referral, and further encouragement to engage in partnerships and collaboration all show promise for many exciting opportunities for our customers. Those working to address sexual and intimate partner violence continue to advocate for education, awareness, prevention, improved response, and justice for all those who experienced a crime. We’re excited to see their advocacy result in new legislation across several states that extend statutes of limitations for crimes, signaling better recognition of the complexities and time involved for survivors to report, and improved allocation of resources towards testing material from forensic exams, improving the chances that survivors will receive justice. In December, the United States Federal Communications Commission unanimously voted to establish a three-digit number to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the next 18 months. This is long sought after acknowledgement that mental health emergencies deserve the same attention and response as the types of emergencies reported to 9-1-1, something suicide prevention advocates have long been pressing for as a way to prevent suicide. Finally, concerns about consent for contact and data privacy continue to loom large across the world. Previous years have given us CASL in Canada and GDPR in the EU, both sweeping and comprehensive sets of regulations. Now we are beginning to see individual states and provinces taking on the task of writing their own legislation to protect consumers from having their data harvested and sold without their knowledge and consent, most notably in California’s Consumer Protection Act. We are doing all we can, and relying on our resources available through Harris Computer, to make sure that we are in full compliance with such laws, and that our customers are aware of how these laws may impact them directly.

These are just a few examples of developments impacting our customers in the year ahead. Of course we will look for any ways iCarol can support our customers through these changes, and help them carry out their life saving work. Look for more from us on our blog and webinars for updates on how we are addressing these topics.

The industries we serve aren’t the only ones experiencing progress – iCarol, too, went through positive changes in 2019. In December we moved to a new infrastructure on which the iCarol web application runs – Microsoft Azure. The migration to this new platform was the culmination of a year’s worth of planning and effort, and was not without its challenges and setbacks, but we are delighted to now be fully operational in the new environment and excited for all it means for our customers. Microsoft Azure will help us provide the most up-to-date, technologically advanced platform available. We can scale and ramp up performance as needed to meet increases in system use, whether it be due to an event, disaster, or the normal periodic demands on the system that occur for monthly exports and reporting. We are delighted not just by the way this move allows us to be more responsive to system demands, but knowing that Azure offers built-in security services that include unparalleled security intelligence. We are very excited to track data over time to show how this new infrastructure improves performance and stability, and supports the future growth in iCarol’s customer base.

I must acknowledge and express deep gratitude for the great support and patience we received from our customers during this transition and in the months prior. Our customers exercised immense trust and patience with us as we developed the plan to make this sweeping change to our infrastructure. Their user testing of the new environment, feedback, and communication with us greatly contributed to the success of this project. I cannot say enough wonderful things about our customers as essential partners with us on this journey.

There is much more to share about what was accomplished in the year behind us, and what’s on our agenda for the year ahead. Later this month we will host a “State of iCarol” webinar for our customers reviewing 2019 progress and our plans for 2020. You can also look to our blogs and email updates, and for customers, our Admin Dashboard, for more exciting information as it develops.

So, as this new year begins, I wish to thank everyone who makes it their life’s work to help others, most especially our customers, on behalf of the entire iCarol Team. Every day we see the positive impact you have on individuals and communities as a whole, and we could not be more honored to play a small part in the amazing work you do. The team at iCarol is excited to see what 2020 holds and hope for continued progress towards a safer, happier, and healthier society thanks to the work you do.

Sincerely,

Rachel Wentink
Vice President, Operations







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Lottery Tickets Aren’t Child’s Play

Figuring out the perfect gift to give can be difficult, and that’s especially true if you’re buying for teens and young adults. And if you feel gift cards or cash are too impersonal, that puts you in an even tighter spot. It might be tempting to give a teen a scratch off or lottery ticket, but according to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), that’s not a good idea.

According to NCPG, research shows that early childhood gambling experiences, including those with lottery products, can be a risk factor for gambling problems later in life.

As a result, each year since 2002 NCPG runs the Responsible Gambling Holiday Lottery Campaign. The campaign’s goal is to raise awareness about the risks of underage lottery play during the winter holiday season. NCPG is joined by their partners at International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors at McGill University in this effort. The campaign is also endorsed by World Lottery Association, North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL), and the European Lottery Association (EL). And this year, 100% of United States and Canadian lotteries, along with numerous international lotteries and non-lottery organizations, have joined the Campaign to promote responsible gambling.

“The Responsible Gambling Holiday Lottery Campaign educates communities that lottery tickets, the form of gambling with the broadest participation, are not child’s play.”
— Keith Whyte, NCPG Executive Director

Click here to learn more about this campaign, and to see a full list of participants.

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National Council on Problem Gambling invites proposals for presentations at their 34th National Conference

From July 22-25, 2020, the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) will hold their 34th National Conference on Gambling Addiction and Responsible Gambling in Washington, D.C.

NCPG is currently accepting proposals for presentations to be offered at the 2020 conference. They encourage submissions on the following topics:

  • Promising and proven advances in treatment including brief interventions, pharmaceutical trials, alternative therapies, co-occurring disorders, outcome studies, and research to practice;
  • Professional and clinical ethics in treatment, research, and prevention;
  • Innovative and novel prevention programs and models that demonstrate results across different domains and populations;
  • Recovery-oriented systems of care, self-help, relapse prevention, and recovery supports;
  • Developments in responsible gambling policy, programs, legislation, and regulation;
  • Data and measurements for responsible gambling program efficiency;
  • Re-framing the conversation, positive play and beyond;
  • Outreach, concerns, and research for special populations such as seniors, youth and racial/ethnic groups;
  • And more!

The deadline to submit presentations is January 17, 2020.

Learn More and Submit Your Presentation

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CALCASA accepting proposals for presentations/workshops at NSAC 2020

The California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) will host the 2020 National Sexual Assault Conference September 2-4 in Anaheim, California. This conference welcomes thousands of people, all invested in ending sexual violence. The NSAC Conference is known for providing opportunities to share information and resources, advance learning, develop new skills, and increase the capacity to assert the dignity of all people. NSAC also believes in building strong partnerships and strategies that strengthen the work to end sexual violence.

CALCASA has opened the process for accepting proposals for workshops and presentations for the 2020 conference. For Request for Proposal criteria and details, including available tracks and rules for submission, check out the information below!

Proposal Guide – English
Guía de Propuestas en Español
Submit Your Proposal

All proposals must be submitted online by DECEMBER 23, 2019 11:59 pm PST. For questions about proposals and NSAC, please visit http://www.nationalsexualassaultconference.org/proposals/

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Stronger Together: iCarol Supports Collaborations and Integrations

In the industry we serve, collaboration is key. iCarol customers often need to join together with partners — another helpline, Community Based Organization (CBO), funder, or government office — to provide continuity of care to people in need, obtain funding, and enhance their relevance and marketability as a community partner and vital provider of services. At iCarol, we see it as part of our mission and stewardship of that data to help our customers harness it to do more.

What types of collaborations do our customers engage in?

  • Sharing Resource Databases or Contact Forms with other contact centers in their statewide or regional network
  • Making warm transfers to other service providers
  • Engaging in after-hours call handling agreements
  • Sharing service inventories/resource database records with local libraries, hospitals, and other interested entities
  • Dispatching Mobile Crisis Teams or other services to people in need
  • And much, much more!

We’ve helped so many customers with such a variety of collaboration project, we even wrote an eBook to share our knowledge and help organizations get their projects off the ground.

Explore the many options for collaboration and integration using iCarol

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Simple Ways to Make the Most of Giving Tuesday

In recent years, Giving Tuesday has emerged as a counterbalance to the consumer based Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday shopping traditions. It serves as a reminder that the holiday season is about charitable acts of kindness and helping our neighbors in need.

Giving Tuesday (this year it’s held on December 3rd) is an excellent opportunity for non-profits and charities to tell their communities about the work they do and encourage charitable giving to their organization. Smaller organizations or those that may be completely volunteer based shouldn’t feel incapable of participating — you don’t need a dedicated marketing team to take part in Giving Tuesday. Below are some simple ideas to try that don’t take a large budget or tons of advanced planning.

  • Simple Social Media

    At a minimum, your social media accounts should publish posts about Giving Tuesday (remember to use the hashtag #GivingTuesday to maximize your reach!). Post throughout the day or schedule your posts ahead of time with social media management software like Hootsuite, Buffer, or Sprout Social. Posts should include a call to action, i.e. do you want them to donate? Volunteer? Learn more about your work? Become an advocate? Depending on the call to action, include links to applicable web pages such as your volunteer opportunity or donation pages. Posts can focus on the work you do, success stories (shared either with client permission or written to remove identifying info), milestones and achievements, goals, and other information that you’d like your community to know about you. Examples of general Giving Tuesday social media posts can be found here. We’re always happy to help you boost your Giving Tuesday social media messages, so be sure to follow us on Twitter so we can follow you back to see your posts in our feed, then we can retweet your message to our followers.

  • Share Video or Photos

    Images and video are more compelling than text-only posts, and most social media sites say that posts that include them get more views, so use them if you can. Your video doesn’t have to be Academy Award worthy — spontaneous and unrehearsed videos are authentic and give people a sense of who you are. Try a quick interview with a colleague about what they do and why they love working for your agency. Or maybe do a fast tour around the office showing everyone hard at work. It can even be as simple as a 30 second video talking about the work of your agency. Videos should be short and sweet, as most research shows short videos are the most watched. After taking the video you can usually do some light editing or clipping right on your phone before posting it to social media. If you’re feeling brave you can even do a live video right from your Facebook or Twitter app on your phone.

  • Visit Your Neighbors

    Hopefully your organization is lucky enough to have some supporters in the business community that work with you throughout the year by holding fundraisers or making donations. Giving Tuesday is another perfect opportunity to engage with your biggest fans. Perhaps they’d be willing to participate in a short video. Or maybe they’d do something as simple as keep a donation box or stack of your agency’s brochures at their register or other space in their business. Most businesses, especially those that already support your work, will welcome the opportunity to continue their advocacy during the holiday season.

  • Meet and Greet

    If your organization is open to the public then Giving Tuesday is a perfect time to invite people in so they can learn more about what you do and become a supporter. Let your reception staff know about Giving Tuesday and equip them with brochures and other materials to give out. Consider hanging a sign in your lobby or outside your building to encourage people to stop in and learn more about your work in celebration of Giving Tuesday. Don’t forget — the holiday season is a great time for recruiting volunteers, too, so make sure applications or volunteer information is on hand as well.

  • Work Your Website

    Your website is one of your greatest assets, so make sure your Giving Tuesday participation is prominently featured somehow. This can be accomplished through something as simple as a blog post or homepage image, or more advanced like adding a new temporary widget to your site that directs website visitors to your donation page, volunteer application, etc.

  • Don’t Let Callers Off the Hook

    If when people call you they first hear a general message or listen to a menu routing them to their desired destination, consider temporarily altering your greeting in honor of Giving Tuesday. This can be as simple as a 10-15 second “hello” wishing them a happy holiday season and inviting them to support your work, along with an invitation to visit your website for more information. This won’t add much at all to their wait time but will get your message in front of everyone who calls you.

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iCarol Offers Premier Support Package

iCarol premier support package

Providing excellent customer service is a top priority for the iCarol team, and this year we enhanced the ways in which we serve our valued customers. Below are details about several new initiatives we have implemented this year.

Premier Support Package

iCarol offers a Premier Support Package. This includes all of the features of the Standard Support Package, as well as:

  • Case responses for Premier Support subscribers will be prioritized.
  • A member of the iCarol Support Team designated as the customer organization’s Technical Account Manager (TAM). This is an assigned member of the Support Team who will oversee all requests for ongoing training and support assistance.
    • This also includes at least one scheduled 60 minute team screen share/call per month between the TAM and the Designated Support Contacts to be scheduled by the TAM.
  • Additional iCarol team members may be brought in to best assist the client, but all interactions will be directed and managed by the TAM.

Contact us for more information

iCarol expanded support hoursExpanded Support Hours

We have added weekend availability to our normal support hours. In addition to our previous hours of 8am to 8pm Eastern Monday through Friday, members of our Support Team are also available Saturdays and Sundays from 12pm to 5pm Eastern.

These are the hours during which our team is available to investigate and respond to support cases through the case management system, email, and live chat (Now available to all customers! See below for details!). In addition to these support hours, our technical and infrastructure teams will continue to monitor for system uptime and performance 24/7, and our Support Team has a process in place to routinely check the case queue for urgent issues at points beyond normal support hours, as has been our policy in the past.

chat with iCarol SupportLive Chat with Support

Our Support Team is available through Live Chat during normal support hours for all of our customers as a part of our Standard Support Package that is included with an iCarol system subscription. Designated support contacts can initiate a Live Chat session with members of the support team during normal support hours by taking the following steps:

  • Log in to your iCarol system
  • Click ‘Help’ in the left hand menu
  • Click ‘Cases – contact the iCarol Support Team’ at the top of the screen
  • Click the ‘Live Help Online’ button in the middle of the screen, OR the ‘Chat Now’ button at the bottom of the screen

If you are a customer and have any questions about the services outlined above, or if you would like to upgrade to Premier Support, please open a case with the Support Team. If you are a not an iCarol customer yet, please contact us. We would love to hear from you!

Many thanks to our current customers who have provided kind and valuable feedback since we implemented these new support options. Your input greatly assists us as we continue to look for ways to improve support delivery to you.

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iCarol at the National Crisis Center Conference

Salt Lake City skyline

This week, Polly McDaniel, Director of Business Development, and Veronica Ross, Solutions Expert, are joining crisis center directors and staff from across the US at the National Crisis Center Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Reaching the Summit: Innovate to Elevate.” Of the theme, organizers say, “During times of division and uncertainty, crisis organizations are needing to use their collective creative energies to remain relevant and sustainable. But challenging times can bring out the best in crisis organizations. We are excited to hear what innovative and creative programs and approaches are being implemented by our crisis organization colleagues.”

At iCarol, we are strong proponents of innovation as a means for a crisis center’s growth, improved efficiency, and better outcomes for the people they serve. We’re very excited to partake in the conversations at the conference this year, and to see how we can help crisis centers innovate to elevate their service delivery.

The two entities presenting this conference, CONTACT USA (CUSA) and the National Association of Crisis Organization Directors (NASCOD) have a phenomenal history of supporting crisis work and we recommend considering membership for your service if you are a helpline, warmline, crisis center, suicide prevention service, or similar organization. By joining them you’ll discover fantastic networking and knowledge sharing from caring individuals who can relate to your day-to-day joys and challenges as a manager or executive director of a not-for-profit. Find out more about CUSA membership here and NASCOD membership here.

Our history with this group and conference is our longest association, going way back to iCarol’s earliest days, and many of the helplines and crisis centers who host this conference were some of iCarol’s earliest users. It’s a long standing relationship that we value and we’re proud to not only attend but are also long-term sponsors of this important gathering organized by pillars of the helpline industry.

As with all conferences we attend, we welcome the opportunity to connect with old friends and new ones. We’re eager to hear about your latest projects and discuss ways iCarol can support you and the needs of your community. Both Polly and Veronica will be on hand throughout the conference to answer questions and talk about how iCarol can help. We look forward to seeing you!

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Going “Beyond the Breakthrough” at the National Sexual Assault Conference

broken glass with sun shining through

CW: The following blog post discusses the topic of sexual violence and harassment.

On August 21st and 22nd, iCarol Director of Business Development, Polly McDaniel, and Solutions Expert Veronica Ross, will be in Philadelphia for the National Sexual Assault Conference.

This is our 3rd year at this particular conference, though organizations that address sexual violence prevention and help those who have experienced a sexual assault or other crimes have long been a part of the iCarol family. In the past few years though, iCarol has seen tremendous growth in the number of new organizations joining us that serve in this space. Over the course of many years serving this industry we have learned much about the unique challenges these organizations face, the nature of the work they do and the people they serve, and the tools they need to expand services in a cost effective but meaningful way.

One undeniable trend is the need to aid survivors through live chat or SMS/Texting, in addition to phone hotlines. While we’ve seen a monumental shift in public awareness of just how pervasive sexual violence is, and more willingness to listen to and believe survivors, there are still barriers in place that prevent people from sharing their stories. The means to ask for help in a way that makes people feel less vulnerable, or more anonymous, can make all the difference in helping someone break their silence and begin their next steps toward healing and recovery. We’ve spent the last several years actively working organizations to help them add on such services.

We’re also so excited to have seen how organizations that help survivors of sexual violence are expanding their services, and using innovative tools to do so. For instance, expanding their talent pools by allowing remote work, dispatching volunteer advocates to Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) procedure, providing follow-up activities, and more services to support survivors.

If your organization supports those who have been affected by sexual violence, we invite you to review some of the resources we’ve pulled together to help you:

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eBook: Choosing Software for Survivor Support Services
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We’re looking forward to the opportunity to answer your questions and hear more about the amazing work you’re doing for sexual violence survivors in your community and beyond. If you are going to be at the conference, please stop by the iCarol booth! If you have questions or want to set up a meeting to speak with one of our Solutions Experts, please contact us.

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National Council on Problem Gambling holds annual conference in Denver

This week, the National Conference on Problem Gambling holds its 33rd National Conference on Gambling Addiction and Responsible Gambling. This is the largest and oldest conference of its kind bringing together leaders in prevention, education, treatment, responsible gaming, research, and recovery.

Problem gambling helplines do wonderful work to strengthen families and improve health and wellness by reducing the economic, social, and personal costs caused by problem gambling. With the growing popularity and reduced legal barriers to sports betting, focus on awareness, education, and prevention are more important than ever.

NCPG has also focused its efforts on supporting members of the military after their research found that 56,000 servicemembers meet the criteria for a gambling disorder and that military personnel and their families are exposed to more than 3,000 slot machines on military bases located Outside the Continental United States (OCONUS) where over $100 million is gambled away every year. Research showed that military personnel are up to 2-3 times more likely to experience problem gambling. Yet, due to the stigmas associated with the disorder, less than ten percent of those with gambling problems seek help. The lack of protections against gambling addiction extend beyond active duty members: a 2019 study of veterans with gambling disorder discovered that they are twice as likely to attempt suicide as compared to veterans who do not have a gambling addiction, and 40% of veterans seeking problem gambling treatment report suicide attempts.

NCPG leadership influenced the introduction of a bipartisan, bicameral bill, the Gambling Addiction Prevention (GAP) Act of 2019. The proposed law would require the US Department of Defense to develop policies and programs to prevent and treat gambling problems, in coordination with the Department’s other behavioral health efforts. On military sites where gambling activities take place, such policies and programs would include providing educational materials and promoting responsible gambling behavior. It also requires the Department to update its regulations, instructions, and guidance to explicitly include gambling disorder within 180 days of the passage of the Act.

iCarol is the chosen provider for a national chat and text collaboration platform for the National Council on Problem Gambling. Several centers and organizations from around the U.S. participate to provide help in states where they provide services. Help seekers from around the U.S. can contact the NCPG National Helpline through phone, SMS/text, or live chat, and are routed to centers serving their local community whenever possible possible. If there is not a designated center available, a trained back-up center helps the person in need. Contact us if you are interested in a model like this at your organization or network.

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