Monthly Archives: June 2011
|June 15, 2011||Posted by M. P. under Children and Family, Policy, Youth Development||
The May 2011 brief KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot on Foster Care Placement from the Annie E. Casey Foundation summarizes the progress of state child welfare systems have made toward reducing the rate of children placed in group homes or residential institutions rather than than foster family homes.
In general, child welfare policies and professionals encourage the placement of children in the least restrictive setting possible with emphasis on their safety and well-being. According to the research brief, placing a child with a relative or a non-relative foster family may ease the trauma of being separated from a parent or parents. Also, within a home setting, the child can experience a safe, stable family environment and remain connected with their siblings, friends and school.
Using data from the Adoption and Foster Care Reporting System (AFCARS) the KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot concludes that while the number of youth in foster care has declined nationally since 2000, the breakdown of the placement of children in the system has remained nearly stagnant. In 2009,
- 16 percent of foster youth were in a group home or institution,
- 24 percent were in a relative’s foster family home, and
- 48 percent were in a non relative’s foster family home.
In Pennsylvania, out of the 16,878 children in foster care in 2009,
- 23 percent had been placed with a relative/kin foster family,
- 24 percent were in a group home or institution, and
- 47 percent were in a non-relative foster family placement.
|June 13, 2011||Posted by M. P. under Budget, Management, News, Policy, Research||
A brief from the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute highlights fallout from the trend of states slashing human service budgets at a time when programs are experiencing an increase in participation. Data from the University of Baltimore indicate the workload grew by 45 percent at some state social service programs between 2002 and 2010 – the same years a hiring freeze and subsequent cuts were implemented. The irony for families who have been waiting weeks or months for emergency aid to be approved is that the same economic woes that led to their need for temporary assistance also led to the elimination of program case managers and staff.
In Maryland, the results of an all cuts budget on such programs are a reduction in staff training, reliance on antiquated information technology systems, an increased workload and uneven distribution of staff. While trimming the budgetary fat and eliminating waste should be encouraged across ALL departments, the report links cuts to delays and errors in determining program eligibility, as well as other inefficiencies.
As Pennsylvania’s budget is also an all cuts piece of legislation at a time of increasing need, this report may foretell what we will experience as the unintended (I hope) consequences of such measures. How is your nonprofit meeting the challenge of serving more people with fewer resources? Has efficiency suffered due to lack of staff, training or technological resources?
The complete brief, Report Shows Several Local Departments do Social Services Dramatically Understaffed: Nearly 1100 Family Investment Staff Needed to Manage Workload, is available at the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute’s web page.
|June 7, 2011||Posted by M. P. under Evaluation, Management, Program Model||
Inputs, outcomes, program evaluation, best-practices, the gold-standard – our familiarity with these terms speaks to how ingrained measurement has become in the daily operations of nonprofits, especially for human and social service organizations. Program and other service data is used to drive decision-making and report performance to external stakeholders – especially funders – but the collecting, recording, analyzing and making use of it can easily become an infernal nightmare as described in the post Performance Measurement in Human Services: From Challenge to Opportunity by Matthew Forti at the Bridgespan Group web page.
What is a nonprofit director to do when multiple, often varied (or worse, duplicated), accountability measures lead to inefficient use of time (extensive data collection), start eating up chunks of the budget (temporary hires to catch up on a backlog of data entry and/or accuracy issues) and otherwise draw the focus away from the organization’s programming, service delivery and mission? Well, for starters, don’t let measurement own you – you must reclaim measurement. Revisit, and if necessary, revise its purpose, methods and role in your nonprofit. Mr. Forti offers several starting points for your journey toward streamlining and improving performance measurement (including a link to a white paper on measurement), all appropriate for nonprofits of any size.
Metrics, databases and reporting requirements won’t disappear, and sometimes, with some funders, they may not even make sense. That said, measurement will improve your services and your bottom line when used intelligently, proactively and consistently by leaders who recognize its value. Set the tone for your team. Make measurement work for you – not the other way around.