Blogs specific to ICW and CPS

New 2017 Funding Announcement for Tribes

NICWA-2015The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) passed on the funding notification from The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, (SAMHSA) regarding SAMHSA “accepting applications for Systems of Care grants to support mental health services and systems for children, youth, and families in tribal communities.

The purpose of this infrastructure program is to provide tribal communities with the tools and resources to implement or expand a community-based, coordinated system of care model for children’s mental health.

Applications filed now are for funding beginning in October 2017.

NICWA facilitated a recorded webinar on November 10, 2016, to:

  • Explain the purpose and goals of the funding opportunity;
  • Walk through each element of the FOA and provide tips for successful applications;
  • Encourage tribal applications; and
  • Answer questions

You can listen to the recording of the full webinar here.

Tribal applications are encouraged! The deadline is January 3, 2017.  

If you are still uncertain about applying after watching the webinar, please contact NICWA– they are happy to answer your questions where we can!”

“The purpose of this program is to improve behavioral health outcomes for children and youth (birth-21) with serious emotional disturbances (SED) and their families. This program will support the widescale operation, expansion, and integration of the SOC approach by creating sustainable infrastructure and services that are required as part of the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and their Families Program (also known as the Children’s Mental Health Initiative or CMHI).

This cooperative agreement will support the provision of mental health and related recovery support services to children and youth with SED and those with early signs and symptoms of serious mental illness (SMI), including first episode psychosis (FEP), and their families.

The SOC Expansion and Sustainability Cooperative Agreements will build upon progress made in developing comprehensive SOC across the country by focusing on sustainable financing, cross-agency collaboration, the creation of policy and infrastructure, and the development and implementation of evidence-based and evidence-informed services and supports. Other activities supported will include the implementation of systemic changes, training, and workforce development.”

Additionally, the Circles of Care VII grant is available for application as well. ” The purpose of this program is to provide tribal and urban Indian communities with tools and resources to plan and design a holistic, community-based, coordinated system of care approach to support mental health and wellness for children, youth, and families. These grants are intended to increase the capacity and effectiveness of mental health systems serving AI/AN communities. Circles of Care grantees will focus on the need to reduce the gap between the need for mental health services and the availability and coordination of mental health, substance use, and co-occurring disorders in AI/AN communities for children, youth, and young adults from birth through age 25 and their families.”

The deadline for this funding opportunity is December 20, 2016.

Handel VP Hosts Webcast via NICWA about Improving Service Delivery with Software

Innovative Examples from Indian Country– Improving Service Delivery using Software and Technology, Handel Information Technologies software. The second in our “Technology Tools Webinar Series!”

In this, the second of our “Technology Tools Webinar Series,” we are excited to have Casey Bader, Vice President of Handel Information Technologies, Inc., share his knowledge about innovative ways tribes are using software and technology to engage with clients, integrate programs, improve service delivery, and secure funding. Some of these initiatives have received national recognition for innovative approaches to addressing community needs.

Casey and Handel Information Technologies, long time NICWA supporters, have presented numerous times at NICWA’s annual conference and have a wealth of experience in Indian Country. We are happy to have the opportunity to have them present to our NICWA members.

Casey has spent over 15 years designing and implementing innovative software solutions with RiteTrack for social service programs and is passionate about finding ways technology can improve service delivery and outcomes in Indian Country. His program focuses include Indian Child Welfare, Family Services, Tribal TANF, Employment and Training, Tribal Court and Treatment programs. Casey has a degree in Social Science with a minor in Sociology from the University of Wyoming.


Packing Up and Moving Your Data

In our age of technology and communication it is common that our customers are adopting RiteTrack after using another data management system, often for a substantial amount of time. One of the largest concerns that we deal with is, “Will we get to keep our data and will it be complete?” At Handel, we understand that historical information is invaluable to spot trends, maintain reporting requirements, and increase interdepartmental communication. That is why we have developed proprietary software to quickly and accurately convert legacy data into RiteTrack.

Our data conversion process starts at the very beginning of our project management process; Handel views data conversions as a key and central part of our software implementations, not as an afterthought. Our trained project managers begin by explicitly mapping out each column in every table in the legacy database and define a place for it to go in the new RiteTrack system. This process takes place alongside the creation of the system design so that the mapping is completed before we start developing the system in order to make certain that no crucial data is left behind. During this process your project manager will highlight areas where the legacy data may not be clean or accurate so that no dirty information finds its way into the new system.

While on the initial site visit, your project manager will sit down with you and your staff to walk through your legacy system to gain a full understanding of its functionality, how your staff uses it, and any potential difficulties that may arise in the conversion process. Since every system is different we make sure to take the time to get to know it. This practice gets to the core of how Handel does business; each project and each customer is unique and we dedicate ourselves to forming a relationship based upon communication, transparency, and honesty.

Once a conversion map has been completed and approved, the data will begin the process of being moved into RiteTrack. Our skilled developers have built software to assist us in the conversion process. Using this single core technology reduces errors, speeds up the conversion process, and lowers cost. Our data conversion experts work side-by-side with our project managers throughout the entire project to make sure that this process is as streamlined as possible.

Much like our software development, our data conversion process involves multiple rounds of testing and validating to make sure that the end product is exactly what it should be. You and your staff will be able to see and test the converted data in a sandbox version of RiteTrack, this will even include any custom fields that have been added. For larger systems this is often done in phases to ensure that nothing is missed in the sheer volume of information we work with.


Handel’s Conversion Process (Click to Enlarge)


We have utilized this process on databases of all sizes, from a few thousand rows of data up to millions of rows. To gain a more complete understanding of how our data conversions fit into the entire software implementation process please read Problem Solved: A Story of Vanquishing Risk and Complexity.
Finally, when the entire data conversion has been tested and approved, Handel will pull a final and current copy of the legacy database for conversion. This information will be what eventually comprises your initial RiteTrack system. At the end of this process your users will have a new, friendly, and easy-to-use software solution complete with all of the data that has been tirelessly entered by users in the legacy system.

This simple, yet powerful, methodology, when paired with our proprietary software, takes the often frustrating and error-prone process of converting data and turns it into an efficient and organized procedure. What is more, our data conversions are fully supported just like our software. If there is an issue found after RiteTrack has gone live our data conversion experts will rectify the error, often with zero downtime for users. Our philosophy for data conversions is the same as it is for building software; we center everything on our clients and their needs in our pursuit for the best product possible.

Revised BIA Guidelines for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings

The BIA has recently released updated ICWA guidelines. These ICWA guidelines apply to state and state court entities. AIAN kids are still 4x more likely to be removed and placed in a non-native home. Here are some of the key updates in my opinion:

-State courts must apply ICWA until the court knows the child is not ICWA eligible
—Basically they must verify (through ways outlined in the guidelines) the child is not Native before they can treat the case as a regular case.
—To this extent the guidelines require more and more strenuous active efforts than were previously required.

-It REJECTS the Existing Indian Family Exception

-In emergency removals
—Should only be removed when a child is in imminent danger, not when parenting could be better. And should be as short as possible.
—When working with a child, emergency removal can’t last longer than 30 days when ICWA applies.

-In involuntary proceedings
—Active efforts (AE) must be shown to be unsuccessful. And documentation needs to show in detail. AE needs to be culturally relevant.
—Standards of proof updated: Can no longer consider poverty, single parenting, inadequate housing, substance abuse, non-conforming social behavior alone.
—The connection and pathway has to be clearly stated. Can’t remove b/c parent has mental disorder (e.g. bipolar) must say parent has bipolar and historically has left the children unsupervised and efforts to help change this have not succeeded.

-Adoptions where ICWA becomes an issue is where ICWA wasn’t followed in the initial stages of the case.

-Placement preferences must be followed unless good cause is shown.

-Post-trial rights:
—Within 2 years of adoption the parent who consented can vacate due to fraud, duress or ICWA non-compliance.
—Can invalidate if certain sections were not followed 1911, 1912, 1913. At any point a party can bring forward issues that rights were violated.

Here are the BIA Updated Guidelines for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings

White Earth Nation WE CARE system of care model run on RiteTrack

Since 2013 White Earth Nation has transferred human service cases for tribal members and their families from delivery by Minnesota counties. In order to provide the best services the Tribe developed the White Earth Coordination, Assessment, Resource and Education (WE CARE) case management model. This system of care model is a client-focused, client-driven model that requires client input and involvement. WE CARE focuses on program collaboration and communication to develop and execute an interdisciplinary plan based on the goals that the client wants to work on. WE CARE utilizes RiteTrack to enable assessment, collaboration, plan development, and outcome tracking.

White Earth Coordination, Assessment, Resource and Education (WE CARE) is a coordinated and holistic case management approach seeking to assure the long-term well-being of children, families and communities. WE CARE’s goals are to

  • decrease duplication while increasing access to services
  • increase client referrals
  • enhance access to resources for clients
  • increase communication and coordination between tribal programs through innovative technology

A primary goal of WE CARE is for services to be client-driven, and success is defined by the client as well.

White Earth Nation recognized that while there were services available to clients, the administration of these services was often ineffective and inefficient. Programs did not communicate and services were not prioritized. Clients could be left feeling confused and overwhelmed, and while a program may claim “success,” the client did not feel successful. The WE CARE model seeks to enhance collaboration between tribal programs, non-tribal programs, community and family in order to address the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional needs of clients. WE CARE relies on client input to direct outcomes, define goals , and determine how success will be defined. The WE CARE Plan, developed with the client, may include services from Child Protection, Child Care/Early Childhood, Head Start, Employment, Education, Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and more.

WE CARE leverages RiteTrack in order to enable collaboration, communication and outcome reporting for this interdisciplinary approach. The process begins with the client signing a Universal Release giving permission allowing data entry of a Universal Intake form into the database system. The Universal Intake is completed in RiteTrack and automatic notifications are sent to programs which are identified as applicable to the needs of the client. These are delivered via secure email with a live link to the record in RiteTrack. Identified programs then individually call the client to offer services, which the client can accept or deny. Any program whose services the client accepts will become a part of the WE CARE team for that client. All team members sign a Legal Confidentiality Form defining responsibilities for sharing information about the client and plan. The WE CARE team and client then develop a WE CARE plan based upon the needs identified in the Universal Intake Form. This WE CARE plan is defined in RiteTrack and includes detailed views of goals, strategies, staff assistance, notes and assigned programs. The WE CARE plan is printed and shared with the client for review and sign-off on the goals and empowerment strategies developed. The plan is updated in RiteTrack throughout service provision and outcomes are tracked. Information reported from the system is then used for federal and state grants as well as communication of outcomes to Tribal Council and the community.

The WE CARE model was developed by a specially chosen development team that created the process and model. Included in this development was the creation of a Universal Intake form, confidentiality form, and WE CARE plan. Additionally, an educational curriculum for staff regarding WE CARE was created to ensure the model was understood and administered effectively. The development team proposed recommendations for the WE CARE Advisory Board, an entity that works to support the program for both staff and clients. Then a public relations campaign was initiated to inform the White Earth Nation about WE CARE and the services it offered. Because of comprehensive and thoughtful planning, the WE CARE model was given the best chance for a successful implementation.

A WE CARE Advisory Board was established based on the Development Team’s recommendations to support and strengthen case management teams. The Advisory Board is comprised of division managers, not WE CARE team staff, and represents WE CARE on several fronts. It acts as a liaison with WE CARE clients and other constituents using this communication to monitor and strengthen services provided.It also provides feedback to Tribal Council and ensure adequate financial resources to support the program.

Through thoughtful, interdisciplinary planning, careful execution and comprehensive support, the WE CARE program has become an exceptional model for comprehensive service delivery to children and families in Indian Country. The WE CARE model uses best practices and collaboration between programs and clients to ensure the best outcomes. The program has developed innovative ways of utilizing technology to enhance collaboration, communication and reporting and to safeguard funding while providing sustainability for the program.

Jennifer Stevens, RN, PHN, White Earth Nation Home Health Agency Manager and Casey Bader, Vice President at Handel IT, will be presenting on the WE CARE model at the upcoming NICWA Conference, April 19 – 22, in Portland, OR.


Problem Solved: A Story of Vanquishing Risk and Complexity

I was told growing up that when you experience success you should act like you’ve experienced it before. Don’t flaunt your touchdown reception or first place finish; act like you’ve been there before. However, I quickly realized that there is a huge difference between simply acting like one has done something and actually having done it.

So, what does this all have to do with software implementations and case management? The simple answer is that there is a large collection of companies out there that claim to be able to take on massive projects to design, develop, and implement a large enterprise-level software solution. How should project leaders with large and complex projects choose a vendor from the plethora of options available to them?

Most people know that in enterprise-level software implementations, risk is proportionally tied to the complexity of the project. If the complexity goes up the risk does as well. With that in mind, what are we to think of projects on the extreme end of complexity? What if we are taking multiple legacy systems and want to put them into one single and comprehensive system? What if we also want to bring multiple departments together onto one single system in that same project? What if there are federal and state reports that must justify from the moment the system goes live? What if we need to integrate with other systems at the same time that everything else is happening? If risk of failure is directly proportional to the complexity of a project, should we even bother attempting such bold initiatives?

Risk and Complexity

Click to Expand


The answer to that final question is a resounding ‘yes’. It is worth pursuing because of the benefits that it can lead to. Bringing multiple systems together reduces complexity and duplication of data entry which, in turn, reduces errors. Having multiple departments or facilities operate on one common platform increases communication and improves outcomes for clients. The risk, in other words, is worth the potential rewards that a system that can do all of those things could bring. However, that one question still lingers… What if it fails?

This is where proven success comes into play. It is not enough to know that a company could potentially complete a project. These projects need a company that has been there before. The type of system described above with multiple data conversions, bringing previously disparate departments together on one system, reporting to federal and state agencies accurately from day one, and integrating with other software systems describes most of Handel’s customers. We have proven success on every single one of our solutions, from unifying government agencies of a Tribe to providing a system that unifies detention and residential facilities for a county.

Large and complex projects require the devoted attention of software professionals who have repeated success and a strong, standard solution. We have devoted countless hours to designing, testing, and refining each of our solutions to meet the needs of our clients with our standard functionality, whether it is for a CPS Department, Juvenile Detention Facility, TANF Department, or a multitude of other systems. This standard functionality not only brings down cost, it also lessens risk.

While most systems require small changes, we have found that our standard platform will accomplish most of the needed functionality within the markets that we serve. Completely custom solutions that are built from the ground up may sound wonderful at the beginning of a project. However, these projects are the most likely to end up over budget, behind schedule, and outside of scope. We at Handel know this because that is how we used to build software solutions. We built our latest version of RiteTrack to combat all of those things; we provide a common framework to all of our customers, thoroughly test and refine each one of our software modules, and send updates to all of our systems whenever we make something better or fix the rare bug we run into. This means that not only is your project more likely to be successful on the front end, but also that our customers never have to worry about having a system that nobody knows how to fix or update five or ten years down the road.

And what of those things that will always be custom to an individual software solution? We handle (yes, pun is intended here) data conversions, systems integration, custom reporting, attaching custom modules to our standard framework, training and system documentation, and everything else imaginable on a regular basis. All of our staff, from our sales personnel to our project management staff to our software developers, are trained to create custom alterations and additions to make our software work for you in the most optimal way possible.


This combination of our standard software offering and our staff’s familiarity with providing insightful and accurate consulting creates a unique environment where we can reduce the risks imposed by time, cost, and scope of a project as a whole while also building a software solution that keeps your legacy data, communicates with other systems, and improves upon your organization’s reporting abilities. Handel’s ability to accomplish all of these extremely complex things comes from our more than 17 years of corporate experience and our tireless efforts to make the best standard software for each industry we serve. Our experience and work makes it possible for organizations to dream big about what their case management software can do for them.

Though these types of projects are large, complex, and sometimes even scary, Handel can help mitigate all of that. We have been there before and our customers have experienced great success using our system. Our track record shows that our methodologies, standard software offerings, and innovative technologies work. So, go ahead and dream big and know that if Handel is your partner your project, no matter how big, will be a success.