Empowering Families: Government Innovation for 2-Generation Success
Local and state governments collect vast amounts of information in the course of delivering social services to children and their families. Unfortunately, many government agencies are unable to use that valuable data to assess program impact and improve quality. This is because data are rarely connected across agencies and almost never used to inform government spending on those social services. In the absence of integrated data and outcomes-oriented contracting, governments lack necessary information about how to spend tax dollars to achieve maximum impact and cannot engage in the continuous improvement process required to truly make a difference in people’s lives.
With the support of a 2016 Social Innovation Fund grant of $2.4 million over three years, Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc. (“Third Sector”) and Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy (“AISP”) at the University of Pennsylvania will provide five governments with the technical assistance to develop both Integrated Data Systems (IDS) and a flexible, scalable contracting model based on measurable outcomes. This effort is an important first step in transforming these governments’ capacity to target valuable resources to serve the two-generation needs of vulnerable children and families.
Following a two-pronged approach, AISP will support each community in developing a sustainable IDS infrastructure for program evaluation, policy analysis, and systems reform while Third Sector will work with the communities to leverage their data insights to develop new outcomes contracts that will direct resources to programs that deliver measurable results.
- Children’s Services Council (CSC) of Broward County, Florida CSC is the backbone organization of Broward County’s Children’s Strategic Plan (CSP) and will use the technical assistance in order to develop an IDS that will generate robust data for the CSP’s Leadership Coalition to improve two-generation programming across Broward County, with the goal of improving outcomes for children and reducing racial disparities in education, health, and economic status. The work will enable Broward County to adequately assess, and improve upon, the two-generation outcomes of CSC programs by incorporating post-program and 2-generation data into program evaluation efforts and by connecting these outcomes to contracting decisions.
- Colorado Department of Higher Education Colorado’s Strengthening Working Families Initiative (SWFI) is a two-generation program run out of the Department of Higher Education. The program seeks to assist low-income parents in obtaining entry-level jobs in high-demand, high-growth career pathways by helping them address barriers to career advancement such as childcare, academic background, and finances. To better understand SWFI’s impact, the Colorado’s Department of Higher Education (CDHE) requires the ability to track data from multiple data sets. Colorado will utilize the SIF grant in order to develop an IDS that includes data from other public systems and, resultantly, to improve two-generation SWFI programming across Colorado.
- Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) OEC seeks to apply IDS and outcomes contracting technical assistance across the office’s efforts. As an agency with a statutory mission to advance two-generation outcomes, OEC acknowledges that these outcomes can only be defined and measured using data from various agencies. The OEC will use the SIF grant in order to develop an IDS that includes data from various sources and to improve two-generation programming across the state of Connecticut. Development of IDS will help improve two-generation programming for OEC’s beneficiaries as measured by outcomes such as child and maternal health, kindergarten readiness, stable employment, and reduced child welfare involvement.
- Iowa Department of Human Rights will use the TA provided by the SIF grant in order to improve two-generation Family Development and Self-Sufficiency Program (FaDSS) programming across all 99 counties in Iowa by developing an integrated data system (IDS) that will include data from various public data sources. The FaDSS program has a history of success, with contracts in place across the state and annual enrollment of 3,300 families and 6,000 children. FaDSS is innovative in its efforts to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty by services delivered through strength-based and holistic home visitation that addresses the needs of both children and parents.
- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services plans to use the support to inform two-generation programs related to child welfare reform, which may include innovative early childhood systems like Pathways to Grade Level Reading Initiative and Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready/Ready) that help to ensure children enter kindergarten on track. NCDHHS will use the SIF grant in order to develop an IDS that includes data from various public agencies and, resultantly, to improve two-generation programming across North Carolina.
The five awardees, along with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and King County, Washington, will also participate in a national Learning Community, providing a peer support network to exchange best practices, brainstorm solutions to common challenges, and connect with leading experts in the field.