Community Action Agency of St. Louis County (CAASTLC), located in St. Louis, Missouri, assists low-income community members through assessment and referral services, a community supported agriculture program, and employment development and energy services. The organization serves 44,000 customers each year.

When state reporting requirements for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) program became stricter at the same time as the number of applicants increased, CAASTLC was buried in paper. The agency chose DocuWare because of its broad-based capabilities and cost-effectiveness. “We recognized the advantage of the lower cost for the DocuWare installation and configuration. We also wanted to use our current copiers and scanners without purchasing a scanning license for each device,” explains Programs Director Georgie Donahue. “DocuWare was the logical choice.” The fact that they could get local support from their Authorized DocuWare Partner Miken Technologies was another deciding factor.

Keeping St. Louis County warm in the winter

LIHEAP, which was one of CAASTLC’s most paper-intensive processes, helps community members who are in danger of an electricity, heating oil or natural gas shutoff from not being able to pay their bill. During peak times, the agency may receive 500 applications for LIHEAP and other energy assistance programs in one day. LIHEAP generated about 20,000 paper files. Every application requires proof of income, social security numbers for everyone in the household, picture ID, and a utility bill. The documentation rarely comes into the CAASTLC office at one time. “Before DocuWare, we might receive an electric bill and file it. Then we’d pull the file again when we received the additional documentation needed to complete the request for funds,” Georgie says. To add to the administrative complexity, clients often apply for assistance more than once in the same year.

Now with DocuWare, quick retrieval of digital documents and automated workflows keeps application processes moving quickly. For example, CAASTLC staff saves time by scanning multiple applications at one time and using barcode separation to route them to the right staff member’s inbox.

Instant access to documents and automated workflow meets the needs of a remote workforce

DocuWare is used to administer LIHEAP and other agency programs. This is particularly important when employees are working remotely. ”Due to COVID-19, our staff is working from home,” says Georgie. “We can process applications from home without an interruption in the service to our customers. Now we can pull up any file when we need it.”

CAASTLC’s drug and alcohol education program also presents a record-keeping challenge that paper processes couldn’t keep up with. Participants are eligible to complete a certificate program within a two-year period. If the customer re-enters the program more than two years later, the staff retrieves their old file. Before office automation, some older files were stored off-site and cost $25 dollars to retrieve. Now files are stored in DocuWare and can be found instantly without incurring extra fees.

Employees appreciate ease of use

secondary blog pictureCAASTLC employees find that DocuWare is very user friendly. In the fall and winter, when energy assistance is most in demand, the agency hires temporary workers to work for the LIHEAP program. Even when the temporary staff don’t have computer experience with the application, it only takes a few sessions to get them comfortable with the system.

Missouri law requires that applications be registered within three days after they are received. Without automation, it took 24 to 48 hours to register the file. Now it can be done in less than 24 hours. It was also time consuming to find the paper files and answer questions from clients. “Now we can report on the status of their application immediately,“ Georgie says. “We are so happy with how efficiently DocuWare works for us, that we have recommended the solution to several other agencies.”

CAASTLC has expanded the use of DocuWare into several other programs, such as their water bill assistance program, as well as several other departments within their own organization. “Our mission is to stabilize families to move them out of poverty,” Georgie says. “Services that meet basic needs like keeping the heat on during the winter, family support programs and employment development all contribute to meeting this goal.”

See the original blog post here.

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