Garrett County Community Action Committee is a private, nonprofit organization in Garrett County, Maryland.  Its activities and projects focus on strategies that assist low-income people to be more self-sufficient. The agency provides a variety of services for individuals, families, and older adults. It also owns a number of housing developments and community facilities located in different communities throughout Garrett County. Programs that Garrett CAC offers are Head Start, Rental Services, Weatherization, Energy Assistance, and many more.

Garrett CAC uses empowOR client management software to manage many of its programs, such as Homeless Assistance, Energy Assistance, Head Start, and Community Development.  The Energy Assistance program is one of their largest programs, serving about 2,500.

The state of Maryland has a portal where clients can apply for energy assistance, but they felt that their clients were better served by the applications that were taken in person at the agency.  They loved the convenience of allowing the client to fill in the application; they decided to partner with empowOR and Hemingway Solutions to create their own way for their clients to apply online that captured all the data they felt they needed to better understand all the needs of the families.  And they wanted to make the application process as easy as they could for their clients.

Maryland Energy Assistance - Hemingway paperless solution for CAP agenciesGarrett provided Hemingway with a PDF version of the Energy Assistance application that the state provided.  Hemingway converted it to a fillable PDF to effectively collect all the data required to help understand all needs the families may have.  Then, a Laserfiche Workflow routine was written to give the case managers the ability to email a client an Energy Assistance application from empowOR to a client with the client contact information populated in the PDF.  This saves the client from entering information that the agency has already collected and, at the same time, the client verifies that the agency has up-to-date information.  The client enters the additional information needed to complete the energy assistance application.  The application is emailed back to the agency where Laserfiche picks up the application and automatically updates the empowOR database with the information on the application form.

Carrie DiSimone, Director of Service Coordination, said that this process has allowed them to capture additional information and enter it into empowOR automatically.  In the past, the client provided this information on paper, but the case managers didn’t have the time to enter it into empowOR.  “Having the data automatically populate into empowOR by Laserfiche Workflow is a huge benefit to the organization and to our clients.”

Gregan Crawford Garrett County CAC goes paperlessGregan Crawford, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, said “This process has allowed us to understand better the needs of our clients and bundle services that will meet their needs.  Since the energy assistance program is the program with the largest number of applications accepted each year, it is the biggest door for clients to come to the agency for services.  We operate with the premise of no wrong door policy; no matter what door the client enters the agency, they have a path to our other services.”

Based on the information gathered, the agency has an easy way to do presumptive eligibility analysis and recommend that the client applies for another service they may be eligible for.

Gregan said now that they have Laserfiche integrated with empowOR, they want to continue to look for more ways to improve services for clients.  Probably the next improvement will be to collect electronic signatures wherever possible in the agency.

Here is more info on electronic records management for Community Action Agencies