Posts Tagged by state funds
|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?
|July 17, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Budget, News, Policy||
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has released several briefs on the 2012-13 PA budget, including their analysis on the cuts, credits and potential impact of the budget on Pennsylvania residents. Highlights of the budget:
- Final budget total amount is $27.656 billion (an increase of $517 million compared to Governor Corbett’s earlier proposal).
- Overall, General Fund spending was down 1.4 percent from 2010-11. Notable spending cuts include, classroom education (a decrease of 9.6 percent), labor and industry (a decrease of 13.5 percent), community and economic development (a decrease of 18.5 percent) and environment (decrease of 20.4 percent).
- Other areas of major cuts: human services (specifically mental health, homeless assistance), higher education and the end of the General Assistance Program – a program that gave temporary support to over 68,000 Pennsylvanians who were sick or disabled.
- Several tax credits and cuts were implemented or continued, including private school scholarships for youth in low-performing school districts (through the EITC program) and credits for corporations doing business in the Commonwealth.
- The Human Services Development Block Grant did not make it into the final budget, but the legislature passed a bill to enact a Human Services Development Block Grant Pilot Program as law.
Visit The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center website for analysis and commentary on the 2012-13 budget and the latest news on policy in Pennsylvania.
PA Schools Plan to Reduce or Eliminate Art, Music, Kindergarten, Summer School & Tutoring to Face Funding Cuts
|May 30, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Budget, Education||
Data from a spring 2012 survey of school districts across the Commonwealth indicate increased class sizes, the possible elimination of art, music and gym classes as well as field trips, and deep cuts to tutoring programs and summer school as the result of an $810 million reduction in state funding. Reductions in local funds coupled with these cuts at the state level and increased health care and retirement costs have already resulted in staff and teacher wage freezes and furloughs in many districts, but now educational programming is on the chopping block.
The assessment, conducted the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) notes that 19 percent of the responding districts plan to reduce or end early childhood education programming, including Kindergarten. This is disturbing news as not only does early childhood education result in improved educational outcomes and is linked to future employability and wage earning potential; it is also an industry that employs tens of thousands of people per state and generates impressive gross revenue figures.
Governor Corbett has suggested that districts use their reserves to avoid cutting programs or academic subjects in the upcoming year. No word on how that tactic ensures that those same cuts will be not made once the “emergency” reserves (already being used by some districts) are gone.
|February 27, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Children and Family, Education, Policy||
Well into its fifth decade of operation, Head Start provides early childhood education opportunities for preschool age children from low-income families as well as early intervention for infants, toddlers and expectant mothers in communities across the nation. A recent policy brief from CLASP, Putting Children and Families First – Head Start Programs in 2010, examines program data to ascertain the impact of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) fund on the program as well as discuss program trends from the late 1990’s through 2010.
Report highlights include:
- In 2010, of the more than 1.1 million children served by Head Start, 86 percent were between the ages of 3-5; and 14 percent birth through age 2 were served through the Early Head start program.
- In 2010, 40 percent of Head Starts participants were white, 29 percent African American, 8 percent reported themselves biracial or multiracial, 4 percent were American Indian or Alaska Native, 2 percent Asian and 1 percent Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. Eleven percent reported their race as “other. ” Thirty-six percent of all participants reported being of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity.
- In 2010, over half of the families involved in Head Start (57 percent) were headed by a single parent. In nearly ¾ of Head Start families (72 percent), neither parent had achieved an education level above a high school degree or general equivalency degree (GED).
- In 2010, 12 percent of Head Start children were diagnosed as having a disability.
- In 2010, 76 percent of Head Start teachers had an associate degree or higher, an increase from the 51 percent in 2002.
The brief contains additional data on program services and families, as well as comparisons of data points over the past decade. CLASP also has a new data tool to assist decision makers and policy wonks with assessing their state’s needs around early childhood education. The tool is accessible through the CLASP website resource center.
|February 20, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Budget, News||
Since it is budget time again in the Commonwealth, I wanted to post about an interesting fiscal analysis of correctional institutions that I came across recently. The Vera Institute of Justice and the Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project collaborated to identify the true financial cost of state prisons to tax payers, not just that included departmental budgets. The 2012 report, Price of Prisons What Incarceration Costs Taxpayers by Christian Henrichson and Ruth Delaney, details their findings on the distribution of prison costs across various agencies and the true cost to taxpayers.
The researchers developed a methodology to capture three kinds of costs, administrative, inmate services (paid for from outside funding streams) and pension and retiree health care plans. They also identified numerous costs that fell outside of corrections budgets yet fell to the taxpayer, concluding that prisons cost taxpayers about 14 percent more than the expenditures listed in the annual budgets represent.
The study lists Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections as spending over 1 and a half billion dollars in the 2010 prison budget, with an additional $463.8 million (over 22.5 percent) in related costs outside the corrections budget. A breakdown of the 2010 budget (and not-in-the-budget) expenditure data from the 40 states that participated in the study is also available online via the Vera Institute of Justice website.
|January 16, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Budget, Policy, Research||
Utilization of economic analysis to examine public policy and system operations just makes good sense, especially in this time of budget cuts, freezes and expectations for programs to do more with less. Regardless of some of the rhetoric out there, I doubt that waste and overspending is favored by anyone. The expectation that organizations, whether they serve vulnerable populations or protect the community at large, will make sound fiscal choices is more than fair. It only follows then that decision-making at the policy level is informed and supported by economic analyses. After all, the well-being and safety of an individual or a community is not necessarily best served by the most costly methods.
A brief from the Institute of Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law, sets out an impressive argument for an evidence-based approach to what is, after Medicaid/Medicare and social security, considered a third rail in politics - criminal justice policy. In Balanced Justice: Cost-Benefit Analysis and Criminal Justice Policy, Jennifer Rosenberg suggests that an economic analysis of current crime control and corrections policies versus alternative approaches proven to operate more effectively and lower costs would:
- align with the trend in funder demand for evidence-based programs;
- respond to the current movements in favor of empiricism and transparency as opposed to emotion-based messaging and political favoritism;
- answer the call for lower and smarter spending in this time of state budget shortfalls.
The brief, which details the use of economic analysis in justice policy and examples of states that have successfully adopted a cost-benefit analysis approach as part of their criminal justice planning and policy process, is available for download at the Institute of Policy Integrity website.