Tips On Using Data
- Track and analyze data to identify if prospective parents drop off in the process between inquiry and approval, or between approval and having a child placed with them. Collect data from families on why they stopped the process. This data can help you determine the stages where families need additional support and can help you distinguish and understand what makes families leave. Having this data can provide staff with a more accurate understanding of the reasons why families leave, rather than relying on anecdotes or long-standing assumptions about why families leave.
- Track and analyze data on the presenting issues and needs when families contact the agency for support. Understanding the common areas of need will help your agency plan and target retention and support services more effectively.
- Map the location of your current foster, adoptive, and kinship families. Map the locations where families can receive support (e.g., respite care providers, support group meeting locations, etc.) and look at whether the services are available in the communities where your families live.
- Use a data dashboard to make it easy for staff to see data on a weekly or monthly basis and to see how the data changes over time. Share data on key areas such as placement stability, percentage of sibling groups placed together, the number of families that made it through the licensing or approval process, etc. Your data dashboard could be as simple as a bulletin board or dry-erase board with updated data highlights.
- Look at your data to find common characteristics of families you have successfully retained. For example, look at foster care families who have been actively involved with your agency for multiple years and identify what the families have in common (e.g., communities where they live, demographic profiles, forms of support they receive from your agency, connections with other community supports, etc.).
- Clean up your data before drawing conclusions from it. Be sure that you’re clear on what questions you’re trying to answer by analyzing your data so you look at the right data elements for your inquiry.
- Use training and supervision to ensure that staff understand the importance of accurate, consistent, and timely data entry.
- Track and analyze data related to making placement moves. Identify common themes among reasons for unplanned placement moves to identify where there may be gaps in services or areas for improvement in placement decisions.
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