Are we measuring the right things? Are we asking the right questions? How do we use data to improve our programs? What is a good success rate relative to other programs? What can we learn from the data?
These and more were the questions 15 members of the LSA Children, Youth and Family Community of Practice asked as they came together in partnership on June 25 at the LSA headquarters in Washington, DC. The group convened with the purpose of achieving positive outcomes for the children and youth they support. Led by Sarah Morrison from the Center for the Study of Social Policy, this was the second meeting in a series of workshops that explores the development of a common set of well-being measures for children and youth programs across the LSA network. All members of this working group have programs and interventions focused on youth; some are community-based while others are residential. Although the service delivery settings may differ, all agencies are striving to support those they serve in becoming successful adults.
There is a growing body of knowledge that defines positive youth development and youth well-being but no one entity has determined the metrics for evaluating these attributes. By developing a common set of measures, which can be shared, the Children, Youth and Family Community of Practice hopes to collectively compare and evaluate outcomes and apply learnings to improve programs for the at-risk youth they serve across the country. As Darrell Gordon, President and CEO of Wernle Youth & Family Treatment Center, stated, “I am here because I believe that as a national network, we can truly have a stronger voice. If we can identify a common set of national metrics we can learn from each other in a trusted environment that may not be available in a state network that is competing for limited funding. We can use this information to improve programs, talk to funders, and advocate with state and national policy makers on the benefits of programs that truly make an impact." The group has worked to outline a common learning agenda and a preliminary set of metrics to define, collect, and evaluate data. Future convenings will build on this framework.
LSA extends gratitude to the Center for the Study of Social Policy and the following LSA members for their support and participation:
Ascentria Care Alliance
Bethesda Children's Home
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
Lutheran Family and Children's Services of Missouri
Lutheran Family and Children Services of Illinois
Lutheran Services of Georgia
Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey
Lutheran Social Services of Illinois
Lutheran Social Services of Nevada
Lutheran Social Services of New York
Lutheran Social Services of Northern California
Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest
Mill Neck Family of Organizations
Wernle Youth & Family Treatment Center
For additional information or to get involved in the Children, Youth and Family Community of Practice, please contact Alesia Frerichs, VP Member Engagement, at 202-544-5823. This work was made possible in part by a generous grant from the ELCA Lutheran Children Services Endowment.