Blogs specific to Tribal TANF

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.

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Talks About RiteTrack TANF Solution

Michael Kafka, Executive Director, Department of Labor at Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe talks about RiteTrack and how it supports their Tribal TANF program.


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.


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.

Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians Goes Live on RiteTrack Tribal TANF Solution

The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians Tribal TANF department went live on its new RiteTrack system in January 2015. RiteTrack was customized for the unique eligibility requirements of the Pechanga TANF program. With the TANF department live on RiteTrack, a second phase slated to implement the Child Protective Services and Indian Child Welfare Module will begin later this year.

TANFThe Pechanga TANF Program assists low income families moving toward self-sufficiency by providing cash aid and other assistance designed to increase job preparation, employment, and allow children to be cared for in their own homes.



Reaching Your Clients: The Importance of Address Verification

Often one of the most frustrating experiences a user of enterprise software can have is the inability to track address information in a consistent and reliable way. This arises mostly due to the fact that most software systems don’t verify address information, which leaves the formatting of an address up to each individual user. This “free form” system of entering data can seem to make a system more flexible, but in reality it creates a large amount of unusable data.

To provide an illustration, below are some examples of the issues that we have run into in our data conversions when organizations upgrade to RiteTrack:

  • Incomplete, invalid, or missing zip codes
  • Street address with no street name
  • Descriptive text that is not an address such as ‘Incarcerated’, ‘Unknown’, or, my personal favorite, ‘I Do Not Know’

All of these issues lead to one common problem; addresses in most databases cannot be readily trusted to be accurate. During data conversions from legacy systems to RiteTrack, we often identify that up to 50% of addresses that were entered into an outdated system are incomplete, inaccurate, or not even an address. Luckily, there is one common solution to solve this problem. That answer is address verification.

RiteTrack utilizes the power of Google Maps to verify addresses, help complete missing information, and keep consistent formatting in the addresses that users track. This single solution, using Google’s API, leads to more accurate reporting, reduced data entry time, and, most importantly, a database that can be trusted.

What is more, by using Google Maps, RiteTrack also can provide all of the advanced functionality that users have come to expect from technology in other areas of their lives. If a person’s personal cell phone can provide them directions to their destination, then surely an enterprise software solution should be able to. Sadly, most systems don’t. When we developed RiteTrack we set out to change that. Below are a series of screenshots to show how easy it is to use our advanced address functionality to provide an unprecedented user experience.

Even with a poorly formatted address, as seen below, RiteTrack is able to make suggestions about the addresses that closely match a search.

Address Search

Using the incomplete and poorly formatted address above, RiteTrack identifies potential addresses that have been verified as actually existing.

Address Search Results

With a single click of a button a user can select the correct address, which will also be correctly formatted automatically for users. The data validation that was once was impossible in older systems takes two clicks in RiteTrack.

What is more, with a single click RiteTrack can access a Google Maps search of the address in a separate browser tab and users instantly have access to the power and functionality of Google’s software. No retyping the address; no copy and paste; it just works.


By being able to access Google Maps from inside of RiteTrack, users can not only view a map and a street view of a location, but can also get directions there, export those directions to their smart phones and other devices, or use any of Google’s other functionality. The power that users have come to expect from their personal devices can now also be brought to their offices. Handel believes that if your smart phone can do it, your enterprise software should as well.

Red Lake Nation Oshkiimaajitahdah partners with Handel Information Technologies

The Red Lake Nation Oshkiimaajitahdah (New Beginnings) program recently began working with Handel Information Technologies to implement the RiteTrack TANF Module. Employment and Training staff will begin using RiteTrack in the coming months, followed by TANF as Red Lake Nation begins taking over TANF cases from Beltrami County.