Posts Tagged by outcomes
|April 9, 2013||Posted by M. P. under Children and Family, Drug and Alcohol, Policy, Program Model, Youth Development||
The impact of parental substance abuse on children’s stability and well-being is a concern that crosses systems. Data suggests that parental drug and alcohol use is related to abuse and neglect and increases the likelihood of a parent’s involvement in the justice system – including the possibility of incarceration. The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) provides In-Depth Technical Assistance (IDTA) to a handful of sites across the country in the areas of substance abuse, child welfare and the courts to result in better outcomes for families involved in these systems. For approximately 18 months, the IDTA team works with local, state or tribal entities to coordinate strategy and services across systems through the use of evidence-based programs and on-site technical assistance in order to grow capacity for improved child and family outcomes.
The report, In-Depth Technical Assistance (IDTA) Final Report 2007-2012 provides an overview of the IDTA program model, related site accomplishments, and the lessons of system change at various levels. Some findings include,
- 50 percent of the sites implemented (or enhanced) a recovery specialist model in their programs;
- 68 percent developed and/or implemented cross-system training plans;
- 60 percent developed and/or implemented screening protocols that resulted in lowers costs, reduced redundancy and a more efficient referral process;
- 27 percent used cross-system data collection and tracking processes, such as case reviews and drop-off analysis, to inform policy and program decisions. (Note: according to the SAMHSA website, a Drop-Off Analysis is “a method used to assess linkages among child welfare, treatment agencies and courts. The method helps to identify connections that families need to make between systems to obtain services and achieve their child welfare case goals.”)
In addition to program findings, the brief discusses numerous lessons learned around systems change, particularly: issues in achieving long-term policy and practice changes and avoiding the fracture of collaborative relationships post-project, leadership focused on engaging and sustaining partners, use of data to identify areas of and opportunities for change, and realistic timelines for implementing system change and shared accountability.
|October 8, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Evaluation, Management, Philanthropy||
Regardless of the outcome of the upcoming election, the nonprofit social services sector – from mental health clinics to food banks – will still be challenged to meet an increased need with fewer resources and limited funding. Savvy nonprofits have already moved toward an evaluation culture, embracing logic models and short-and-long term impact data to illustrate why (and how) their programs work. Organizational innovation and unique program accomplishments are practically prerequisites for making a successful connection with alternate funding sources, including corporate partnerships, yet nonprofits are still struggling to identify and quantify their impact on clients, the community, and the overall condition they work to modify. Performance measurement, logic model and outcomes are not new or faddish terms, so why the hesitation?
The report, Tough Times, Creative Measures: What Will it Take to Help the Social Sector Embrace an Outcomes Culture? from the Urban Institute, came out of a Fall 2011 event that brought together leaders from the government, nonprofit, philanthropy, and business sectors to discuss the issue of data-driven management in social and human services and the challenges related to successfully utilizing a performance management system. Some of the challenges identified included,
The difficulty of turning away from the organization’s immediate needs to plan and implement a measurement system. No matter how small the agency, the demands on the executive director’s time and talent are immense. Writing up an organization-wide evaluation strategy and implementation plan, including models, indicators, instruments, and data collection plans is an enormous amount of work – and I haven’t mentioned the pilot testing, analysis and reporting aspects. The role of director should be to communicate progress and needs with the board as they guide the agency through this kind of culture change, not create every step of the process.
The reality that sometimes the best outcomes may not be rewarded. Conspiracy theories and snarky excuses aside, well-crafted stories, high profile connections and nonprofits with missions or target audiences that are more interesting or appealing than your own may have an easier time selling their effectiveness. That said, incomplete or inaccurate information on program impact won’t help remedy the situation.
Some nonprofits may be waiting for the trends to flip and the tides to turn. Why move heaven and earth within your organization to embrace a culture that may seem like a phase (especially to long-time employees who have seen edicts from funders come and go). Buy-in for outcomes tracking and reporting may be based on acceptance of the hoop-jumping norms, not the real value of performance measurement to the overall health of the organization. It is time for boards and directors to be brave and commit to an organizational culture change - but be prepared to illustrate how it will be beneficial for staff and (more importantly) clients.
In response to these and other impediments, I mean realities, the symposium attendees identified strategic areas that would have the most impact in encouraging and implementing a data-centered culture: human and financial capital – the tenacity and the tab, creative advocacy – sector giants to back this shift, and ready-to-use systems and tools so directors don’t have to start from square one. How can nonprofit leaders better model and manage a measurement culture? Why are some nonprofits hesitant to embrace this shift?
|August 20, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Budget, Children and Family, Policy||
The role of courts in demanding change from the child welfare system is not a new one. However, in the paper “Court-Based Child Welfare Reforms: Improved Child/Family Outcomes and Potential Cost Savings,” Liz Thornton, a Staff Attorney for the American Bar Association’s Center on Children and the Law, finds evidence that such reforms have resulted in both lower fiscal costs and improved child welfare outcomes.
Several case studies are presented to discuss court-ordered changes including those around service accessibility, family treatment and improvements to child welfare system processes or practices. Of interest to Pennsylvanians may be the American Bar Association’s Permanency Barriers Project which, according to the brief, resulted in 20 PA counties reducing the average time by youth spent in foster care by 9 months, resulting in a significant cost savings.
|August 8, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Management, News||
Watching a segment on a morning show featuring pundits drinking coffee and discussing the difficulty of the job market for anyone under age 30 reminded me of a chat I had with a nonprofit leader back in the midst of the fiscal maelstrom. He lamented that his children – all young adults, finishing school or starting off in their various fields – were never going to have either the professional opportunities or the standard of living that he had achieved. I thought to myself that Gen X didn’t have it particularly easy either: the “new normal” of guaranteed job insecurity, 1.5 to 2 incomes needed to buy a modest house (forget about being too choosey about the school district), raising children while planning (or actively caring) for aging parents, and carrying the obligation of repaying our own student loans.
However, some recent reports shed light on the extent of the challenges facing young people when it comes to securing employment. The report, No End in Sight? The Long-Term Youth Jobs Gap and What It Means for America from Young Invincibles, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, found that the rate of unemployment for 16-to-24 year olds was more than double the national unemployment rate – 16.5 percent compared to 8.2 percent. The rates for African–American and Latino young adults are even higher – 20.5 and 30.2 percent.
No End in Sight? examines the youth employment gap between what is available in the current economy and what a healthier version (not expected until 2021 unless strong action is taken) would resemble, concluding that the recession has cost youth and young adults over 2 and half million jobs. What makes the impact of the recession more of a concern to the authors is that early experience of unemployment leads to outcomes such as lower lifetime wages and lack of upward mobility.
Demos looks the July 2012 Young Adult Employment Report though a mixed lens, on one hand the unemployment rate for 25-to-34 year olds remained stable at 8.2 percent, but data indicate this cohort also left the labor force – ending their job search for whatever reason.
Tying this bleak outlook back to the nonprofit sector – I was curious about the results from the latest survey from Idealist.org which indicate unemployed young adults are not flocking to the HR departments of nonprofit organizations. According to the data reported in Voices from the Sector: The Idealist.org Nonprofit Job Seeker Report, people 18-to-29 years made up 27 percent of nonprofit job applicants – just slightly above the 24 percent of 30-to-39 year olds and below the 28 percent of job-seekers aged 50 to 54 years. Interesting.
What are you experiencing as a nonprofit professional or job-seeker? Are older persons returning to the full-time workforce, including nonprofit organizations? Are Millenials just not attracted to the sector as much as their older counterparts?
|June 13, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Evaluation, Management, Research||
This spring I’ve been lucky enough to be working with a colleague on a multi-program evaluation project after an extended absence from the world of outcome measurement. It is a bit like riding a bicycle, in that your never forget HOW to do it, but it seems I did forget the pleasure that is found in working with agency staff as they help inform the evaluation plan and models, assist in identifying key indicators and witness the first round of data come in for review. Each project allows me to get up close and personal with a new nonprofit organization as well as to meet exemplary, dedicated nonprofit professionals at all phases of their careers, but there is something about evaluation that really gets to the essence of a nonprofit. I am, indeed, glad to be back in the measurement mix.
My colleague shared this link with me and because there is so much I love about this succinct, on point article, Six Pieces of Advice to Demystify Evaluation by Johanna Morariu, Director of the Innovation Network, I wanted to post on it rather than just send the link off into the tweetosphere.
No matter where your organization is in the evaluation (or for that matter strategic) planning process, start making data collection your friend. Immediately. It’s not going away (ever), there are more tools than ever before to help with it, and even if you hire an outside firm to conduct your evaluation – eventually their contract ends and it falls to your organization to sustain it. Don’t spend a dime on a contract or software until you know you will be able to do so. Not to worry though, a thorough consultant involves you and your staff in each step of the process and will provide the necessary technical assistance during the transition to ensure you will be able to take over the reins.
So, feel free to make eye contact with and extend a hand to that evaluation. Soon, when you are knee deep in useful data for your board, clients, funders and community supporters you won’t be able to remember life without it.