Roundtable: Using Integrated Data Systems (IDS) to Improve State and Local Policy and Programs
(Tools of Analysis: Methods, Data, Informatics and Research Design)

Friday, November 3, 2017: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
McCormick (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Roundtable Organizers:  Patricia Auspos, Independent
Moderators:  Patricia Auspos, Independent
Speakers:  Maria Cancian1, David Merriman2, Francisca G.-C. Richter3 and Rebecca Schwei1, (1)University of Wisconsin - Madison(2)Cuyahoga County Job and Family Services(3)Case Western Reserve University

This Roundtable explores how states and counties use integrated data systems (IDS) to improve policy and programs. Much is known about the challenges of developing an IDS but examples of their use by policymakers and practitioners are rare. An IDS links individual-level administrative data from multiple public agencies on a periodic basis. Linking records across agencies over time, an IDS can create rich pictures of individual service needs, participation, and outcomes. They offer valuable tools for policy analysis, program planning and monitoring, and evaluation. An IDS helps practitioners and policymakers break through institutional silos; understand how policies and practices in one human service system affect outcomes in another system; improve service coordination and targeting; save government money; strengthen case-management; and utilize predictive analytics. In this panel, pairs of researchers and practitioner/policy makers will discuss how IDS data were used to 1) change Wisconsin’s policy on collecting child support to offset the costs of out-of-home placements in the child welfare system, and 2) develop the nation’s first county-level Pay for Success program, in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. In Wisconsin, a university-based IDS revealed that pursuing child support orders to offset the cost of a child’s out-of-home placement not only failed to reduce total costs, but actually lengthened the time children spent in foster care. Based on these findings, the Department of Children and Families is revising its policy. When implemented in 2018, referrals will be sent to the local child support agency from child welfare only if a child has been in out-of-home care for at least six months and the parent is not making progress toward reunification. In Cuyahoga County, a consortium of county officials, nonprofit agencies, researchers, and private and philanthropic funders used a university-based IDS to craft an innovative Pay for Success program. Partnering for Family Success offers a more coordinated set of services to mothers who face housing instability while their children are in the child welfare system. Like many Pay for Success programs, Cuyahoga County’s program involves delivering investor-funded services and tracking results across agency boundaries. In this example, investors are funding comprehensive services for homeless mothers. Repayment is tied to the savings generated from reductions in the time their children spend in foster care. The IDS is essential to planning, managing, and evaluating this effort. These examples are drawn from a series of case studies, developed for The Annie E. Casey Foundation, that document how local practitioners’ and policymakers’ use IDS to improve policy, practice, and programs. Panelists – who include state and local policy makers as well as researchers -- will describe the local IDS; the data sets, research, and measures used; what the integrated data revealed; how the state or local government staff used the information to shape decision–making, and what innovations and improvements resulted. The moderator will highlight other examples from the case studies, identify cross-cutting issues, and engage panelists and audience in a discussion of how IDS can help policymakers and practitioners improve service delivery outcomes and save money for government.